Lack of proper sanitation in Nigeria: Let’s talk about toilet

Wouldn’t it be great if there is a law in Nigeria that insists all new homes must have a toilet before moving in?

Recently, walking around Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile Ife campus to see the New Market. In this area were restaurants among many other essential shops. I needed to ‘go’ so I asked a lady where the toilet was, here’s her story – the market area was opened towards the end of 2012, in March 2013 each shop was levied  25k which she believed everyone paid. She said the person in charge of the project is working on choosing the contractor. For now, their toilet is the bush around the NM which is in close proximity to students eatery area. This is a university environment where one would expect school authority to place high importance on provision of proper sanitation – shameful.

peeing in the sea







Most villages in the southwest have no toilet so people defecate in the farm or nearby aatan (designated area). Often times when you needed to ‘go’ you’d need to visit aatan to do your ‘business’ and no matter how careful you were, more often than not, you’d get out of the bush with someone else’s faeces stuck to the bottom of your sandals…it is not only health hazard, it is disgusting and humiliating! My mother is hygiene freak, she tried to keep us safe, insisting we wash our hands and keeping the house clean, even with all her efforts – I used to believe that diarrhoea was the norm.

We once rented a place with 3 other families, in total we were about 15 people including the children. The owner had a bigger uncompleted property in the front that he hoped to finish when he retired he didn’t think he was obliged to provide any toilet and no one in the house bothered to ask as most of the houses around us had no toilet, only a handful of houses in the area had any form of toilet. We used his unfinished property in the front as our bathroom and toilet.

Presently, beside my parents house is an empty land with wild bush on it, guess what the neighbours used it for? – Yeah, you nailed it. My old man gets furious almost daily especially when the wind blows. I once suggested that people pull money together to build a community toilet so occupants of houses with no toilet could use it and contribute together for the maintenance, the responses I received was ‘no money’ and the same people who claimed to have no money had 2 or three mobile phones in one household.

Imagine my excitement when I read this blog entry:  Why We Give a Shit about Toilets and the fact that more people around the globe have access to mobile phones nowadays than they do toilets. I can relate to that I say!

Most of the people living in the cities today are either from the village or small town, hence the old habits would not die easily without calling awareness to it. Not the most glamorous topic, I know, but without bringing it to the open, it would not magically disappear. I am aware that many folks could not afford to dig their pits or any toilet for that matter without external help however, if everyone who has enough money to own a mobile phone lived in a house with no toilet, surely they should be able to contribute a bit towards building and maintaining community toilets.

I think it will be great if there is a law that insists all new homes must have a toilet before moving in. The villages should have community toilets that we all contribute to maintain. This is no job for government alone, we are all in it together and should proactively advocate that every house must have a toilet or community toilet for villages, if homes can be taken care of, office and market places would not be so hard.

There will be less traffic to the hospitals and health centres when the amount of faeces fed roaches, flies and rats were reduced.


Categories: Africa, Nigeria

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