Squatter settlements causing health concerns

A makeshift home in Rasta Corner, Clarendon.

KINGSTON — Serious public health concerns have been raised about the unhealthy lifestyle practices carried out by persons living in informal settlements, especially as the population continues to increase.

Data contained in the 2011 Population and Housing Census, published by the Statistical Institute of Jamaica, indicated that close to 9,000 households squatted on land and more than 31,000 squatted in detached units.

A visit to some of the settlements in Kingston and Clarendon revealed that with the absence of basic sanitary facilities in a number of these houses, residents have resorted to using nearby bushes as an alternative means of disposing of their human waste.

According to 27-year-old Tracey-Ann Cameron from a community called Bush on Marcus Garvey Drive, the lifestyle is of little concern to her.

“We don’t really have a problem. We go bush and other persons go there too. We don’t use the bush at nights, we use other means and dump it in the morning,” she said.

“Who don’t have toilet post them letter a bush,” Oneil Reid, another of the community’s members, said.

But Marcia Reid of Commons in Clarendon said financial challenges were preventing her from constructing a proper facility for herself and her four children, so they have no choice but to use the bushes which she said are a common area for the community members to pass their faeces.

“I don’t have any money to build a toilet and so we just have to use what we have available,” she said.

“My house is not good so if I had money I would fix it quicker than how I would build a toilet,” she added.

Some members of Rasta Corner in Clarendon are also engaged in the activity. They too said persons without the necessary facilities would have to use the bushes or bathrooms at their neighbours’ houses.

Public health specialist Dr Winston Davidson said the practice presented an imminent danger to the nation.

He said the squatter settlements were unstable lands and unsuitable for proper human settlement. (Gleaner)

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