I see this picture every time I walk through my hallway, it was taken at a beach a few years ago. Today, I took a closer look as if I was looking at it for the first time then it occurred to me that the problem of open defecation goes beyond the surface – to effectively deal with it, mindset has to change.
How can one explain a grown man peeing in the open with total disregard to people around him? I have seeing a grown man defecating same way at a Lagos beach with little left for imagination and a few minutes later brought some gigantic prawns for sale – all I could imagine was fresh poop in the guts of those prawns – I prefer not to have preconceived image of what might be so I declined.
Additionally, how can one explain a school with 600 pupils having 2 pit toilets to share between them? One can not be too quick to blame children defecating in the open as most likely teachers do the same thing. Teachers in such a school are comfortable with the state of toilet because that is definitely not the priority for the school otherwise they would have found a way to increase the number of toilets or at least keep the ones they have in good order – that goes for public primary school in Abuja, if that is the state of a school toilet in the federal capital, it tells a bigger story about others around the country. The newspaper says it was a shame, I call it enlightenment.
I have come to realise that some old habits can be harder to shift so for lack of toilet facilities in public places and homes, may be the best way to go about it in Nigeria is to have a rule that all must follow, we already have plenty of rules that aren’t enforced nor followed, we might as well add a beneficial one to the pile. For example say to have a toilet and wash hand basin for every 1 to 30 people, (number much lower in developed world) and enforced without exceptions. My preferred starting points no doubt would be places of worship, schools, markets etc. Who knows wishes may come true.
** Shalanga = toilet