Just a while ago, my community recounts the story of a very young girl killed by a snake bite at night while she was relieving herself in a bush near her home. Apparently the little lad had unconsciously stepped on the snake who perceived her to be an enemy intruding it’s space, retaliated by stinging the child to death.
Also, some days ago, a family reported the incidence of their missing child who had gone to relieve himself on one of the roads to their farm. Perhaps the boy was kidnapped or killed still remains a misery that is yet to be unraveled till date.
The story of 14 year old Jackline Chepnegeno who committed suicide in SouthWestern region of Kenya after being humiliated due to Menstrual stain, still remains a very sad development that would not be easily erased in the heart of many people.
Today, as I write this piece, I recall the incidence of a child who squatted on a school fence while he defecates on the other side of the school . It was a very scary scene to me! The boy could slum from the fence, fall break an arm or a leg. But reality downed on me and I realized that the child had no choice, there was no better way to relieve himself. The school had no toilet, and the only way he could answer the call of nature was to carefully squat on a school fence. Not minding whatsoever could happen if he forgot himself during the act.
Rabi was a very intelligent beautiful young lady who had dreams of becoming a medical doctor. She was so determined to achieve these dreams so much that despite all the odds a girl experienced going to school in the core northern part of Nigeria, she never skipped class for once. When it rains heavily, she attends class, when the sun is crazy she goes to school no matter what! The last time we heard her speak about her ambition she said “I wish to build a community clinic to take good care of the entire people in her community.
It was so unfortunate that some months later, Rabi was gang raped and killed in a bush near her school. Apparently she had gone to hiss herself when she met her untimely death.
These are few of the series of sad stories revolving around lack of proper Sanitation and WASH facilities in Nigeria.
It is no longer news that more than 70,000 children in Nigeria die from diarrhea and other water related diseases as a result of unsafe water and poor sanitation conditions. According to a UNICEF research, more than 47 million people practice open defecation in Nigeria, making the country rank the second highest in the number of people that practice open defecation worldwide after India.
The research further states that only 12 percent of markets and motor parks have WASH or SANITATION facilities, 32 million Nigerians use toilets that are in a very bad condition and do not have access to clean water and proper sanitation. About 12 million under five children are stunted, and more than 2 million are suffering from delicate malnutrition. About 50 percent of children’s death in Nigeria is related to open defecation disease.
Only six percent of primary schools have access to gender sensitive toilets and open defecation facilities in Nigeria. Also, in many primary schools, the percentage is always about 50 or more pupils to a toilet.
Although the Federal government of Nigeria recently declared a state of emergency on WASH sector in Nigeria and launched campaign strategy to end open defecation in the country by 2025.
This tragic story still continues in many rural communities and Urban that may never be covered by the media. As I write, somewhere, a girl is being molested, raped and choked to death.
Sometimes I wonder if my wish for an open defecation free community will ever become a reality, but apparently i tap myself to come back to reality that the world is not a Wish Granting Factory.
But I am still hopeful. That someday, my dear country will be open defecation free.
Are you also hopeful ?
How to reduce the risks associated with lack of adequate WASH facilities
- Carry a Hand Gel hand sanitizer. It is an antibacterial that kills most known bacterias.
- Wash hands regularly with clean water and soap
- Water treatment should be carried out from every source of water or in the home
- Always wash hands after using the toilet and before preparing food.
- Maintenance and periodic replacement of existing service or facilities,proper hygiene promotion
- Bring clean water closer to the home, schools, and other social gathering
- Sensitization and awareness on the importance of hand washing should be raised