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Confused Kano house-owners breed mosquitoes; say: we don’t know what to do

Apart from the Government Reserved Areas (GRAs) where there are functional drainages and other facilities, a typical area of Kano is flooded artificially with wastes…

Apart from the Government Reserved Areas (GRAs) where there are functional drainages and other facilities, a typical area of Kano is flooded artificially with wastes thrown out by residents.  Agreed, the houses in such areas might be well-decorated and painted, but the liquid wastes make them an eyesore.

However, it appears that apart from the crusade against malaria as  championed by governments and non-governmental organisations, particularly donor agencies, communities are reluctant to make a march towards bringing malaria to an end despite the rate it is killing people, particularly women and children.

Pyramid Trust spoke to some residents in such areas and they expressed different views on the negligent attitude. At Hotoron Mahauta, which is relatively a new settlement, Malam Ibrahim Dauda testified that drainages is not part of the building plans in the area.

“To be frank, one thing that we, in this area, don’t normally include in our building plan is the provision for a soackaway where all our waste will be channelled and that is why the whole environment is looking untidy and unkempt. Another problem is that even if one decides to make a soackaway in his own house, if neighbours do not make provision for same, it will make no sense because one will end up being defeated since others around are not ready to comply by doing same,” said Dauda.

Asked if the residents had ever thought of sensitising each other to the dangers they are exposing themselves to by allowing their liquid waste into the streets, particularly considering the issue of malaria, Dauda said, “we actually have never thought of anything like that but I think it’s a good idea that we have to set up a committee to see how we can approach the issue.”

He said the community was not unaware of the fact that mosquitoes breed on such wastes and also not unaware of the fact that malaria kills saying, there was no single day that one person or more in the neighbourhood was not battling with malaria.

Hajiya Fatima Aliyu, who also lives in the area had this to say, “The issue is that anyone who owns a house in Kano feels on top of the world, as he feels he can do whatever he likes and get away with it. That is the simple reason why people are negligent of their collective social responsibility of ensuring a clean environment. The attitude is very bad and must be discouraged.”

On where the problem lies, Fatima said, “The major problem is that people don’t have conscience and that is why they don’t abide by rules  and  obey constituted laws, even where they exist. But I also blame the government for not ensuring that things are done the right way. It is sad and unfortunate and that is why I find it difficult to imagine if at all we can fight malaria with such attitudes.”

Na’ibawa is also another area where such attitude is prevalent, and interestingly, even the culprits are not happy with the situation though there seems to be no attempt by the residents to address the situation.

Aliyu Umar owns a house in the area and also channels his liquid waste to the streets. To him, his reason is the cost of constructing a soakaway away that could absorb all their wastes. “I know very well that letting the liquid waste to the streets contributes to breeding mosquitoes which transmit malaria, but the problem is the high cost of constructing a sack away that will absorb the waste. We are also not happy with the way the environment is looking but we can’t help the situation, we pray that government will someday construct drainages for us.”

The Kano State Urban Planning Development Agency is saddled with the responsibility of issuing building permits and urban development. The Director, Architecture of the agency, Umar Bala Yahaya attributed the indiscriminate disposal of waste to government inadequacies over the years. He said, “the whole problem lies with government’s inadequacies in terms of providing the required facilities, such as roads and drainages whereby the government just provides the sites without proper plans.”

Bala further said such attitude was visible even in planned areas and blamed it on the population explosion. He said the issue would be better appreciated with the understanding that metropolitan Kano had two types of settlements; the organic and the planned areas, which had different historical antecedents. He said the organic settlements formed the real Kano city and had their liquid waste channeled to the various ponds within the city.

Bala further said that due to urbanisation, that system has been distorted, whereby people acquired the ponds as personal possessions, therefore, making things more complicated. He further said though the traditional leaders such as ward and district heads, did not have any enforcement machinery in running their affairs, it was difficult for them to help address the problem.

On what the agency is presently doing to curtail the problem, he said, efforts were being made to develop communities in such a way that basic amenities would be provided with a view to curtail the influx of people into the city through their constituency projects by politicians.

Alhaji Muhammadu Tukur Bashiri, is the village head of Hotoro. When contacted, he said he was aware of the attitude, but due to some reasons, it might be difficult to ensured any correction. “The main problem is that people are desperate to own houses, but unfortunately, cannot afford a land big enough for them to build the houses with all the facilities required. That is why they let their liquid waste on the the streets. We know it shouldn’t be encouraged but the fact is, behavioural change, as we all k, and that is why we are doing it gradually and tactfully to sensitise our people on the health implications of such.”

Alhaji Tukur further said they were trying to see if people would adopt digging a hole where the liquid waste would be collected and evacuated when filled. He called for the involvement of environmental health specialists in the crusade for a better disposal system of liquid waste in the community. He blamed the menace on the abolition of the Duba Gari system, whereby environmental health specialists take charge of environmental health of communities.

 However, an environmentalist, Fatima Sada advised that to ensure a healthy and malaria- free community, residents must ensure proper sanitation by way of avoiding all forms of stagnant water, through appropriate use of insecticide treated mosquito ,nets as well as the correct use of insecticide sprays.

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