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48 The shame of Abuja school toilets By Alex Abutu & Taiwo Adeniyi Today, Nigeria joins the rest of the world in marking the World…


The shame of Abuja school toilets

By Alex Abutu & Taiwo Adeniyi

Today, Nigeria joins the rest of the world in marking the World Toilet Day. The United Nations General Assembly in 2013 officially designated November 19 to raise awareness about all people who do not have access to a toilet despite the human right to water and sanitation.

The day, coordinated by UN-Water is usually done in collaboration with governments and relevant stakeholders though United Nations General Assembly urged relevant stakeholders to encourage behavioural change, together with policies for increasing access to sanitation among the poor, complemented by a call to end open defecation as a practice extremely harmful to public health.

Bread of Life Development Foundation (BLF), a non-governmental organization has urged the Federal Government to immediately convene a National Conference on access to Safe Toilets, in order to discuss and find solutions to the sanitation crisis in Nigeria.

the WHO/UNICEF/Joint Monitoring Report 2015, that states 45million Nigerians are still defecating in the open and another 130m use unimproved and shared toilet facilities.

It is highly imperative to convene a National Conference on Toilet bringing together all stakeholders including state and non-state actors to find a sustainable solution to poor access to safe toilet facilities in households and public places, says Bread of Life Development Foundation in a statement, signed by its Information and Communications Officer, Ms Enejor Veronica, to mark this year’s World Toilet Day, November 19.

The World Toilet Day, as the UN says is a day to take action and do something about inaccessibility to toilet. Access to toilet is still a challenge in the country with more than 33 million of the country’s population practising open defecation.

Open defecation is a practice whereby people have no choice but to defecate outside often in the open with no privacy. This is a common practice in the country even in several capital cities including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

In Nigeria, many homes, schools, hospitals and public places are without basic toilet. While many toilets in several private and government places could barely pass as one.

Daily Trust conducted a check in schools and villages in Abuja to see the state of their toilet facilities and how they are using it.

Surprisingly, densely populated areas in Abuja such as Nyanya, Pyanya, Durumi extension and other settlement in the city lacked basic toilet facilities and houses are built without recourse to the need for a toilet.

In Gomani, a community in Kwali Area Council, only the community head uses a toilet. The remaining over 200 residents relieve themselves in the open, river and refuse heaps. More pathetic is the state of toilets in Nigerian schools. Most of the schools are without modern toilet facilities.

Local Education Authority (LEA) Primary School, Dutse, Bwari Area Council of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) of the three blocks of the toilet in the school none is used by the pupils.

One is dilapidated, the other already surrounded by overgrow grasses while the best of the three was locked forcing the pupils to relieve themselves in the bush within the school premises.

The scenes in many FCT schools justified the assertion of the UN that that open defecation is one of the clearest indications of global sanitation crisis leading to the death of the a child every 2.5 minutes.

Happenings in many schools in the FCT lend credence to the UN’s estimation that teenage girls are forced to leave school when they start menstruating because they have no privacy. At the LEA Primary School, Kogo 1, Bwari Area Council about 600 pupils share two toilets.

When our reporters were conducted round the toilets, it was an eye sore as most of the pupils have decorated the walls with urine. Using the local closet in the toilet poses great risk no thanks to the faeces that lined the road.

One of the teachers that conducted our reporters round the lone school’s toilet building said most of the pupils defecate openly instead of using the toilet.

The teacher who pleaded anonymity said though the toilet is not enough for the pupils, they still find it difficult using the available two modern pit latrines. The teacher said of the two latrines, one is meant for girls and the other for boys though no visible sign was on the wall as demarcation when our reporter entered.

The toilet was without a water source while it was unkempt. A resident, Wunmi Adekole stays near the school. She said there are more dangers in using the toilet than defecating openly due to its unhygienic nature.

According to the United Nations – Water, one billion people are forced to practice open defecation around the world. Nigeria is among countries with the highest cases of open defecation.

While residents blamed the government for not doing enough, the United Nations is calling for a concerted effort into improving sanitation in the world into helping one in three people worldwide who do not use a basic toilet.

With the lack of basic toilets in schools, the future of million schoolchildren is compromised by poor sanitation and related nutrition problems. A significant portion of the human excrement enters the water drank by the many people circuitously causing typhoid, hepatitis, polio, diarrhoea, worm infestation, reduced physical growth and other diseases.

At Government Secondary School Koroduma the students were full lamentations over the incessant use of school toilet by strangers.

The school principal, Mr Philips Sulieman said the school toilets were under lock and key due to unauthorised use by strangers when lessons are going on, making it dirty and unsafe for the students because the school has not been fenced.

At the Local Education Authority (L E A) Primary School, jikwoyi, the Head-Teacher lamented over the dilapidated state of toilets in the school.

Mrs, Orgi Ann described the situation as worrisome and urged the appropriate authorities to address the situation. “The government should please come and put it in order they should also put the necessary things as you can see it is now dilapidated. The school was opened in 1976 and the toilet had never been renovated”.

Similarly, the Principal of (L E A) Primary School in Kogo Phase 1, Abuja has also urged the authorities to look into the affair of the school saying that the state of toilet and building of the school among others are worrisome.

As the school toilets need urgent renovations so also is the need for government and other stakeholders such as the Abuja Environmental Protection Board to site toilets in strategic locations in the city.

Apart from hotels in the city, there is no decent place for anyone press to answer the call of nature meanwhile the few established over a decade ago such as the one near the Area 1 federal secretariat has become home to miscreants and other hoodlums forcing gentlemen to look for the bush nearby to ease themselves when necessary.

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