Addressing open defecation

OPEN defection ought not to be an issue in Nigeria in the 21st century. Sadly, contrary to expectation, it is. Logically, it points to bad leadership, abysmal failure of governments for ages. Seriously, the act is a repulsively primordial practice that cuts across all strata of society; gender, status and careers despite its negative consequences, albeit predominant among the underprivileged class.

Without a doubt, it sounds comical but a reality. Yes, open defecation transcends homeless, primitive and uneducated people. People of diverse vocations also do fall victims of unexpected stomach upset while on journey. And most times, it is abysmally remedied by the unwholesome practice. Of course, nobody will bravely own up to being a perpetrator if not caught red-handed in the jungle or witnessed by co-travellers.

And so, the odious misconduct is practised by two groups; circumstantial perpetrators and habitual practitioners. Whatever the category, excreting outside toilets is open defecation. Sadly, it begins from habitually peeing outside facilities. Of course, if reasons are necessary, both sides possibly will adduce cogent raison d’êtres.

For example, whilst the former may shift the blames to health and nature, the latter will blame penury and governments’ insensitivities. But realistically, what options are available to a traveller that is suddenly under extreme pressure to answer the call of nature where no public conveniences exist? In most cases, any nearby forest plays host to such victims.

The reason is simple – lack of functional and safe public toilets in sufficient numbers at strategic locations.

Hence, it goes beyond blaming perpetrators but conscientiously, dutifully counting the available public toilets in every neighborhood alongside their proximities, which is in the negative. For those that don’t go on long road trips, they may still not escape it at social outings. At most night events in public places, faeces of unknown persons are often spotted littering the surrounding areas.

Again, phobia of infections, mostly by women, majorly contributes to open defecation where there are public toilets but uncertainty about safety. Unfortunately, defecating in the open is critically hazardous than superficially believed. Suffice to say that providing sufficient public toilets that are convincingly clean and hygienically safe is a necessary remedy.

Abysmally, Nigeria, according to global statistics currently ranked first position in open defecation in Africa and second in the world after India. By concerted efforts, India has practically moved away from the position leaving Nigeria to formally step into her shoes before the end of 2019. Funnily, Nigerian lawmakers have been collecting outrageous allowances for constituency projects over the years.

From UNICEF survey, out of 47 million Nigerians who indulge in open defecation, 16 million live in the North. It also shows that while one in every four Nigerians defecates in the open, one in every two persons in the North Central do so in the open.

Recently, President Muhammadu Buhari signaled to end open defecation in the country by 2025. To actualize this, at least, two million toilets must be added annually. Some state and local governments have slightly keyed into the scheme. From the economic perspective, interventions through massive provision of functional public toilets will robotically boost employment opportunities in the society when public conveniences are actively put in places across the nation. Undoubtedly, having functional and safe toilets in proximities along highways alongside remote areas will boost economic growth since demands for safety and hygiene products will practically rise.

  • Carl Umegboro, 08023184542