Liberia is no stranger to difficult times, having weathered a devastating Ebola outbreak and now struggling through a slow economic recovery. Lost amid the headlines from these events is the story of Liberia’s quiet public health victories.
Half of Liberia’s 4.5 million people live in the countryside and roughly the same amount practice open defecation. This practice has jeopardized public health by facilitating the spread of diseases that cause diarrhea, Liberia’s sixth leading cause of death and the primary cause of childhood morbidity and mortality.
However, thanks to two programs that championed community-led total sanitation improvements, USAID has now helped 1,500 Liberian communities achieve open defecation-free (ODF) status — fueling optimism about continued public health improvements in the near term.