Filthy Nigeria and a bit more

An email I received yesterday evening was another reminder of sanitation and hygiene issues in Nigeria. I’m sure thousands of people would have received the same email from Global Citizen.

32% of world population, it says, have no access to improved sanitation, I know Nigeria has a fair share of that number. It is not all due to poverty.

Prior to reading this email I came across a BBC article, on India and the habit of defecating in public place. Their politicians, with the assistance of NGOs are making efforts to increase public awareness and help with building basic toilet facilities in the community and rural  homes.

What I have noticed lately was that India is not shy about the gross negligence of sanitation and lack of toilet facility at home and in public space. In fact last year, there was a video clip of Pissing Tank going around Mumbai flushing shameless adults pissing against walls.

I know I would be happy to lead the same campaign in Nigeria.

What has Nigeria got to do with this? I say plenty.

I’m sure Nigeria and India are first cousins in the department sanitation and hygiene issue. In terms of population we are working hard playing catch up anyway.

Why do people get upset when Yoruba women are said to be the filthiest in Nigeria?

This stereotype started somewhere, I don’t believe attacking others tribes by pointing to other areas of social issues is the right attitude, also I don’t think the allegation is completely untrue.

Take for example my sister’s shop whose landlord was keen to show tenants he’ll finish the toilet before everyone moved in, only to turn the small space meant for toilet to another rented space after they have all paid one year rent.

This place is close to a well frequented local airport. All the options tenants were given were just pure way to humiliate oneself in public. There are sanitation inspectors in this town but the area is a blind spot where one would assume everyone does the right thing.

There are many examples like this one all across our regions, this is not even mentioning villages where shut put is the norm. Evidence is in our neighbourhood, schools from primary to tertiary institutions, churches and market places, not to mention roadside.

My question is in a situation where you have a dozen women working for eight hours daily and no provision of a toilet, and it is universally understood that women arguably use toilet more than men  given biological differences.

Isn’t it simple to see why women are picked on the most especially in a region where toilet is not for all?

And as for Yoruba women. I can see why a tiny percentage who have never had to do shut put in their lives will take offence when fingers were pointed, but I see it as a call to improve habits and to be more involved in sanitation and hygiene projects knowing fully well that reputation smear on half of a population of women should bother the other half.

Categories: Health, Nigeria, Women

Tags: , ,

24 replies

  1. Looking around the world the people of Lebanon are protesting at their government for not disposing of rubbish properly. Probably their are other underlying reasons, but the bottom line is that the residents do not see it as acceptable that rubbish and filth should be allowed to clog the streets.
    The same can’t be said for Nigeria, the people are used to it. When people demand less they get less, I’m sure Nigerians politicians get more pay than the Lebanese counterparts, but the question is what for? Public service provision is sub-standard, the house of reps rejected a pay cut. Yet nobody has created a stir.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yep, we are used to it and a few pc who have experienced better prefer to keep their household in order at the expense of the public and assume the rest can’t be saved but would waste so much time being defensive…

      I completely agree with you that there is a need for non violent protest in Nigeria if we ever truly wanted to see any change that will benefit the mass.


  2. To my mind, you can’t talk about this subject enough. Filth does not need to be tolerated when there are a myriad of schemes, technologies and mechanisms for dealing with it in a responsible way. In San Francisco, they have a paint that repels urine, so when some men decide to relieve themselves in prohibited areas there is a warning sign. If they ignore it, the urine will bounce off the wall and land on their shoes and trousers.
    In addition to lack of hygiene and sanitation being a health hazard. From an outsider’s point of view, people don’t see Igbo, Yoruba or Hausa etc. They see dirty black people…, they see third world and corrupt people with misplaced notions of grandeur and self-importance, when we can’t even deal with the human waste. People get incensed when outsiders say black Africans are uncivilized, but why do they when Africans do behave in an uncivilized manner?
    Nigeria can’t use the excuse of no money or lack of rainfall for the inadequate water situation. There is more than enough money to deal with these things and in the south it rains abundantly, still there is a water shortage in Ibadan and Enugu. We all need water, but nobody wants to take responsibility and tackle the issue properly. Israel receives less rainfall, but there is no water shortage there. Will we ever learn before disease overwhelms us and settles the issue for us?
    To my mind, Nigeria has no place at the league of leading nations until it can learn to deal with this most urgent of basic issues. Nigerians love to talk of Nollywood and the telephony revolution that is occurring, these are simply distractions I’d rather Nigeria had no Nollywood and spent next to nothing on football if they can tackle the sanitation and hygiene issues. I’d rather there was no Eko City (for Lagos) or new business park in Kano if filth and sickness would be eradicated from Nigeria.
    It is hard to say one is proud to be Nigerian, when the streets are overflowing with garbage and human waste. I think Nigeria should take a leaf out of the book of the Japanese when it comes to hygiene.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Haven’t heard the SF painted wall before, that’s funny and great if it gets desired result.

      When people say we are uncivilised, we have a response for that – ehhn there used to be faeces flowing on the streets of London…400 years ago.

      Well, I read somewhere that Sokoto state now started to compensate cleanest neighbourhood. I only hope that the cash rewards has condition that it should be spent on the neighbourhood development. And hopefully, this scheme will be extended to rural Sokoto state as well..

      When I was little, most communities have tap water, not running through the house but to a centralised spot on the streets close to homes. Our water supply then comes from ‘Mokuro’ Ife… At the time I bet paying for water is a fraction of the cost today as nowadays most households have their own well/borehole dug and soakaway in individual home has taking away the need for centralised sewer system.

      Looking at our issues individually reveals more of the mindsets that’s hard to grasp for me.


      • To the line about 400 years ago the streets of London were like that is neither here nor there. The fact is we are in a situation now that this can be dealt with and it isn’t being, that is the point. People responding like school children, shows a lack of understanding.

        As for Sokoto, let’s hope they have enough money to keep it up and that waste is being disposed of in a responsible manner.

        The idea of having to go out in the streets to buy water and transport to your home for domestic needs is not something to look forward to, when there is the option to have it flowing to your home. Even going to your nearest well to draw water, one can’t be sure as to how clean the water is or if it hasn’t been contaminated by water from the nearby soakaways. In short it is not an ideal solution where population densities are high.

        Liked by 1 person

        • People responding like school children to important issues is very common and on the rise, usually these are respected folks.

          I’ll give you an example but on slightly different issue: yesterday there was a news report that the King of Lagos is being probed by the ICC for his threatening speech to some folks in Lagos during the governorship election. This I believed was dealt with swiftly at the time to promote inclusiveness and peace however I think the court is probably looking back at it to make sure such attitude do not repeat itself in future and definitely not from a respected figure.

          So this lady who perhaps is in her late early 50s in her own words says “Can you investigate the queen of britain?” she continue to say ‘there are some people you neither touch nor investigate.’ Now I don’t think our royal families should all be rubbished but this statement coming from someone that is very outspoken against injustice left me deflated.

          I bet Sokoto has enough money – all that is required is keeping Sokoto’s fund in town as opposed to Mecca.

          The water issues is both not ideal and a very expensive one when broken down…


          • Hopefully, the ‘respected ones’ will wise up or pass out of this world as dim as when they were ‘respected’.

            I just laughed about your comment about Sokoto having enough money. Good point!!

            The water issue isn’t intractable, if China with 1.3 billion souls can do it. I’m sure Nigeria can (Nigeria is many times smaller with less challenging landscapes) , if they can look beyond their own pockets and apply themselves. Nigeria doesn’t need to host silly conferences, or send huge delegations to pointless international conferences, or build new ciites. Down to earth, transparent policies along with proper planning and a commitment to follow through is what is needed.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Haha, only a tiny weeny ‘respected ones’ earned it. Your latter point there seems to be the only hope…

              You see those conferences and focus groups can be really useful but I totally agree with you, with the way we do it, it is another vehicle for squandering limited resources.


  3. My president! Typhoid is too rampant o! Now it is Typhoid and malaria together. Is wa!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I do agree with you on the Yoruba women being the dirtiest. It’s really appalling having to shuffle past a certain portion of the market because it’s been designated the market toilet. Don’t tell anyone, ok?

    We don’t consider having toilets at strategic points a thing to be had. Back in school, there were about 2 public toilets within the campus with a population of thousands. I’ll leave for school in the morning and have to hold it in the rest of the day because the odds were never in my favour.
    Of course something had to Give. I discovered that banks always had clean toilets. I became a two minutes customer. You get what I mean, don’t you?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Noble cause, Fola. Keep up the good fight. Everyone’s health is involved in this one.

    Liked by 1 person

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