This analytical report presents the household characteristics and housing conditions of Liberia. The household headship among males and females was mainly concentrated in the age group 25-49; accounting for about two thirds of the households. As expected, the proportion of household heads at younger ages for both sexes was found to be small, less than 3 percent. At the national level, the male headed households were 73 percent while the female headed were 27 percent.
The total population of Liberia was 3,476,608 of which 98.5 percent lived in households, while the rest (1.5 percent) were living in other living quarters around the country. It was noted that, the Bush society declined, reflecting a cultural transformation in Liberia where a substantial portion of the population may have shifted away from this traditional form of living.
About one third of the households in Liberia resided in one room followed by those households residing in two- room houses (19 percent). About one third of the households reported that they used pipe or pump out door as the main source of drinking water, followed by river, lake or spring which amounted to 23 percent. Flush toilets usage was also limited, 14 percent of the households used flush toilets for waste disposal compared to about half of the households who relied on bushes.
In Liberia, 57 percent of the households depended on charcoal and 37 percent on wood for cooking. In terms of access to health services, about one third of households reportedly took less than 20 minutes to reach the nearest health facility and another one third took 80 minutes and above to reach the nearest health facility. About half of the households were living in self-constructed housing units and 15 percent of these housing units were inherited. About 47 percent of the households reportedly resided in poor quality housing units whose outer walls were made of mud and sticks and only 22 percent were in housing units made of cement blocks.
The country had high essential and non-essential household amenities deficiency. At the national level, paid employees reported the highest usage of essential and non- essential household amenities. For instance, the percentages of households owning mattress, radio and furniture were estimated at 76 %, 54 % and 34 % respectively. Over half of the farmers who grow food crop mainly for subsistence were resident in temporary housing units implying that gainful employment is crucial for poverty reduction; through better paying jobs, households heads may be able to provide basic needs for their family.
The female headed households were sizable (180,995 or 27percent) in the country which could partly be attributed to the civil conflict at which time women were empowered and constrained to take over the households, as their male counterparts had to escape due to the insecurity which mainly targeted the men. Access to safe drinking water and proper human waste disposal is a sure way of avoiding some diseases. In addition, a high dependence on charcoal and wood for cooking should be avoided since it may lead to the depletion of the forests and its catastrophic effects on the population and the world over.
The following policy recommendations are made:
1. The Liberian Government should formulate and implement a favorable private investment regulatory framework so that the private sector may invest in low cost housing for the benefit of the poor masses in the country.
2. The Ministry of Youth Affairs should come up with projects to support the youth who dropped out of school to engage in small scale enterprises. This may comprise of a training component on entrepreneurship and marketing skills, a revolving start-up fund, adult education component to help them understand financial issues.
3. The Liberian Government with the support of development partners should focus on increased accessibility of the residents to utilities like electricity and water and sewerage for improved welfare of the people. The Government should also offer budgetary support to the utility companies so as to increase their coverage.
4. The “bush society” is on the decline and the Ministry of Education should include some of the positive values in the formal education curriculum.
5. Community sanitation and hygiene programs should be enhanced so that the people may be encouraged to construct covered pit latrines, protect sources of drinking water and promote general family hygiene.