PAST AND PRESENT
The Buduburam Liberian Refugee Settlement is situated about 44 km (27 miles) west of Accra, off the Accra-Winneba road in the Gomoa-East District, within the town of Buduburam. The settlement was originally a retreat center located on 140 acres, intended for use by approximately 400 persons. In 1999, the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) worked with the Ghanaian government to establish the settlement, bringing in tents and putting up a few other buildings, making space for approximately 5,000 refugees. In short order the refugee population approached an estimated 82,000. When Delilah and Point Hope arrived in 2004, the total population was estimated at 42,000 persons.
In 2009, the population estimated in Buduburam Settlement is 12,000 officially registered refugees (those registered by UNHCR) plus another 8,000 to 12,000 other displaced persons, unregistered refugees who are not recognized and covered by the official UNHCR registration documents. Gomoa-East District has a total population of approximately 230,000 inhabitants. The nearby city of Kasoa (7 kms, or 4 ½ miles, away from Buduburam) has an estimated 100,000 inhabitants. The medical clinic at the settlement in Buduburam, St. Gregory’s Medical Clinic
The Buduburam Refugee Settlement is divided into 12 Zones. Amongst the 12 zones, the actual settlement property is divided into 9 zones and the remaining 3 zones are outside the property and within the indigenous peoples of Buduburam.
In 2004, Mr. Saah Charles N’Tow, a Liberian man living in the U.S., went to Buduburam and wrote his observations, including this portion regarding sanitation:
The settlement suffers two major problems relating to sanitation: limited or no latrine facilities for families and poor refuse collection and the lack of a functional waste management system.
The inadequacy of affordable or free toilet facilities in the settlement has compelled residents to utilize an area of woodland on the outskirt of the settlement, commonly referred to as the ‘Gulf’. Although, dangerous for many, including children, especially young girls, residents continue to use the gulf as a space to answer nature’s call. The shades of tree and its isolation from the camp make the gulf a suitable place for rapists, murderers and child molesters to ply their detestable trades. There have been several reports of small children disappearing and found murdered later, after they had gone to the gulf to ease themselves. Women (young and old) have been raped while attending nature’s call in the gulf. Nonetheless, the gulf remains the best choice for the thousands who are unable to afford the fee to use the European built camp toilets. But the Gulf is being threatened by the rapid expansion of the camp, as more houses are built in parts of the gulf. Consequently, many have begun to transform their backyard into toilet facilities, by digging holes, which they cover after use. Unfortunately, it is sad to note that where one backyard stops, the front of another begins. (The Perspective
Unfortunately, not much has changed on this front in Buduburam. There are very few community toilets, which ones exist are still not free, and the camp still lacks a proper sewage system capable of handling the needs of the community.
However, many things have changed since Point Hope came to Buduburam in mid-2004 for instance:
- There is now fresh water in every zone in the camp, piped in and pumped out under the guidance of Point Hope and the Living Waters
- St. Gregory’s Medical Clinic
- Point Hope helps to sponsor the Neighborhood Watch (NEWAT)
- Over 250 children are educated
- In partnership with St. Gregory’s Nutrition Center GRUHEDEM Save Our Souls Daycare & Pre-school
- Women and men are given the opportunity to receive skills training
Buduburam refugee settlement is about to undergo another drastic change. The UNHCR is working toward calling a cessation to all refugee status at the camp. Put simply, the countries from which the refugees came will no longer be considered unsettled; they have stable governments in place and the refugees should be able to return to their homelands. By the end of 2011, the UNHCR will have totally withdrawn all support from the camp. Point Hope believes there is much work to do prior to that date. We do not plan on abandoning the settlement and the support we provide to the present infrastructure. We will continue as we have been, but we also know we must plan for the future, we must give a helping hand up to all who are willing to stand on their own and move forward.
We are especially concerned for the widows and orphans, the most vulnerable population. Where will they go, who will provide for them, who will help them with food and shelter, who will train the children up by educating them, feeding them, giving them hope and a future? We don’t have all the answers to these questions, yet. This is a work in progress and things don’t progress in a refugee camp they way they might in America. Point Hope is learning to be patient, to be ready and to be available to act when the moment arises that we are allowed to assist.
That is what Point Hope Village
That is our vision, but Point Hope cannot do this alone. It will cost a lot of moneyhours skill sets