The authorities should do well to provide toilets and enhance environmental sanitation
The urge to ease oneself most often comes without much warning. When such an urge arises, it should be conveniently responded to. At present, that is not readily available in most Nigerian cities. The embarrassment that this could cause is better imagined than experienced. That is why the provision of public toilets and conveniences is an imperative in a modern society, not the least one wooing investors and tourists. Otherwise, where would a person, outside home, who suddenly feels the need to either pass urine or stool, ease themselves without debasing their human dignity?
As the world marks the 2022 Toilet Day tomorrow, the United Nations charge “everyone must have access to a toilet connected to a sanitary system that effectively removes and treats human waste” should be a clarion call in Nigeria. It is a common sight in many of our towns and cities to find people urinating or defecating either on the roadside or in seemingly obscure corners, sometimes in the full glare of passers-by. Since people who are hard-pressed in the public often have to ease themselves in the most inappropriate places, the health hazards posed by this repugnant habit cannot be over-emphasised.
This culture is more noticeable at motor-parks, public schools, markets, bus and train terminals, and public squares where there are either no toilets or poorly kept ones. Even some of the nation’s airports have no functional toilets. Where such facilities exist, they are poorly maintained. It is amazing how authorities at all levels should ignore such basic needs as toilets. Available statistics from the United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reveal that there has been limited progress in the fight against open defecation in Nigeria.
What saddens is that the entire country is fast becoming one huge field, where people defecate, without shame, and without putting into consideration the impact of their action on the health of others. In many rural communities, people still build houses without provision for toilets, or as the case may be, latrines where waste can be emptied without others coming in contact with it. In the urban centres, the issue is pervasive. And experts have consistently warned that when large numbers of people are defecating outdoors, it’s extremely difficult to avoid ingesting human waste, either through food or water contamination or because it has been spread by flies and dust.
Agreed that the government may not be able to provide every facility needed in a city, it must however create the enabling environment to encourage the private sector to do so.
Besides, government at all levels must initiate and sustain a re-orientation campaign to educate and enlighten the people on the need for observance of basic hygiene in our communities or cities. It is the loss of this once cherished culture of cleanliness that has today made certain public places a no-go. Schools, churches, mosques and other agents of socialisation should also join in the campaign for provision of public toilets.
Against the background of reports that majority of the public facilities in Nigeria either do not have toilets or they are broken, this emblem of shame deserves urgent attention. As the world therefore marks the 2022 toilet day, the authorities must work towards removing this social impedimentin our country.