• Public defecation has become way of life in Kebbi community
From Olanrewaju Lawal, Birnin Kebbi
in Mairawa, a residential area in Argungu, Kebbi State, public defecation is fast becoming way of life. Oftentimes, members of this small neighborhood in the fishing community of Argungu abandon the shelter of their toilets to ease themselves in open fields or on top of refuse sites. In so doing, they become eyesores to the public and health risks to the rest of the community.
Some residents of the neighborhood, worried by the situation, told Daily Sun that the practise of defecating in public arena was not entirely new in the community. But they were quick to add that it had gone from bad to worse and was swelling in the number of “converts” as a large number of young members of the community had since followed the example of their elders.
“They too take an uncommon pleasure in defecating all around the environment, in polluting the town,” said a resident who felt the local authorities were not doing enough to stop the suffocating mess nor to clean up the refuse dumps that provide sanctuary for some to defecate upon.
“It is common to encounter people, dressed down to their knees, answering to nature’s call. And these people are adults, not children,” said 10-year-old Tajudeen Muhammed, a resident in a nearby neighborhood. He said every day he takes leave of his home to go to a popular dumping site in Mata-Fada to ease himself.
It is the same sad tale for Aliu Hassana, a 15-year-old boy, who walks from Bakin-Kasua, about 10 kilometers away, to Mata-Fada to defecate. Although ashamed by the act, he argued that he could not afford, “to pay money at the public toilet at the central market. And I do not have a toilet at home. That is why I always come down here to ease myself.”
Investigations showed that there were several factors that could have led to the growth of this unhygienic practise. Besides the evident absence of awareness on the ills of this behaviour, there was an absence of sanctions against perpetrators.
Mallam Ibrahim Mohammed, a resident of Mairawa, admitted one of the very few public toilets in the area was abandoned a few years ago when it was blocked due to incessant dumping of refuse around the structure: “We complained to the local government authority, but nothing was done. We also erected a signpost on the dumping site, which restricted people from throwing their garbage there, but as soon as they did not see anybody around, especially early in the morning and at night, that place would be filled with refuse. They are adamant, they have refused to listen to us and that is how this place was turned to a dump site.”
Muhammed, who recognised the fact that public defecation had serious health implications on the community, lamented that efforts to correct the situation and improve personal and community sanitation did not yield results.
Hajia Aisha Mazan-Kwarai, a farmer near the refuse site, held that the odour from the refuse was repulsive. She appealed to the local government authority to come to their aid and evacuat the heaps of refuse before an epidemic breaks out.
Emir of Argungu, Alhaji Samaila Mohammed Mera, expressed shock and concern over the situation. He felt that it was the responsibility of the local government council to address the issue and evacuate the dump sites.
He added that, at the individual level, there was the need to educate the people on heath matters.
“If people were educated, they would know how to take care of their environment. As leaders, we would communicate with the government to do something,” he said.
Recently, Kebbi State Government reintroduced health inspectors, otherwise known as “Duba-Gari,” to promote clean and healthy environment. Governor Abubakar Atiku Bagudu charged the health inspectors to work towards ensuring healthy environmental consciousness among the people.
He added that his administration would implement the bill already signed into law, which brought together all primary health care institutions under a single management.