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.