Liberia – July 22 2019

Wading through the waters

Liberia’s rainy season can be a miserable time for Susana Koh and other residents of Gaye Town, a swampy flood-prone slum outside Monrovia.

When the rising waters flood Susana’s home, she and her eight children have hardly a dry spot to sleep or play.

“It is particularly difficult for the little ones,” says Susana, who lives in a community where high grass and water dominate the landscape. “On some days, there is no place to move, nowhere to play, nowhere to go. They are stuck in one place.”

Two out of three Monrovians, like Susana, live in makeshift homes built in lowlands and swamps, affecting their health and employment prospects. Susana’s family is among 215 families supported by SOS Children’s Villages Liberia to help improve their living conditions or move on to better situations altogether.

Many families in and around Monrovia live in shanty houses built in swamps. Population growth, combined with internal migration from a 14-year-long civil war, led to the rapid expansion of settlements in high-risk flood zones.

Empowering communites to help families

SOS Children’s Villages Liberia stopped 18-months ago giving direct handouts to families, which was the practice following the civil war and during the Ebola outbreak in 2015. The team now offers skills training and income-generating activities to caregivers to put them on the path of sustainability and self-reliance.


One of Susana's sons (Photos by Sebastien Taylor)


Susana used to work as a trader. She would buy goods on credit, sell them at the market, and pay back her loan. Her expectations were high, but she struggled to balance caring for her family and returning the money to vendors on time.
The SOS Children's Villages team advises her on how to take care of her children and to manage her business selling bags of nuts. “When the SOS team came, they introduced me to the village savings associations. At first, I was reluctant to join one, but some friends who have been part of it for a long time told me otherwise,” says Susana. “I’m now at ease knowing that I can save money and provide for my family at the same time.”

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