This peninsula community in the heart of Monrovia lies between Mamba Point and the Mesurado River on the inland side, and the Atlantic Ocean. The sand peninsula encompasses approximately 4 square kilometers and is home to 75,000 people. Many parts of West Point lie less than a meter above the water table. Rising sea levels and storm surges are carving into the coastline, sweeping away sections of access roads, homes and businesses along the oceanfront.
Sanitation is a constant problem for West Point. The challenge of providing a flushable sewer system and fresh potable water for 75,000 residents creates a serious health risk. Every day is a struggle for this community living at the mercy of the sea.
Trash and open defecation has turned the Mesurado River into an open sewer. West Point’s strategic location at the mouth of this river suffers especially during high tide when trash and sewage accumulate along the beaches.
An economy based on fishing supplies Monrovia with fresh fish. Smoked fish finds its way to markets throughout Liberia.
Many residents of West Point work in neighboring Waterside Market, Liberia’s largest market, leaving West Point unusually calm during market days. This “waiter market” woman sells avocados, called butter pears in Liberia, on the main street through West Point.
The main street is eroded, in some places washed away completely, making access to the peninsula challenging for all but kek-keks and motorbikes. Larger delivery trucks often block the narrow lanes, creating congestion and frustration among taxis, private cars, and pedestrians.
Plans to relocate the residents of West Point to a stable, healthier environment have stalled in the government. With elections coming in October 2017, it appears nothing will happen until after, and then will likely need fresh negotiation. Meanwhile, the rising sea is deciding the fate of residents on the edge, one day at a time.
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