It is a shame that in this day and age many of our people still defecate openly because they do not have toilets. Some landlords build houses without toilets while Government constructs public buildings such as markets, malls, motor parks and even schools without public conveniences. This is shocking.
We should not forget that Owerri was once the cleanest city in Nigeria. Today, it may not place 10th in any national competition. Open defecation is still being practised with raw sewerage being dumped anywhere and everywhere.
When our state government gave free education and started building & modernizing schools we cheered. Regrettably, many of the schools with 50 to 100 children plus teachers have no toilets. They have neither the traditional pit latrines nor the modern water system. Open defecation begins from there!
Schools have converted the back of their classrooms into toilets and refuse dumps. No wonder there are outbreaks of “this and that” with endemic typhoid and malaria in our communities. If the culture of good hygiene is acquired early or learnt at school, what are we teaching our children?
What is happening in the rural areas is also happening in the urban centres, even worse. There is a shameful absence of lavatories in our public places: our most frequented areas like markets, community centres, shopping malls, even churches have no toilets.
It is regrettable that toilets are not considered important. One wonders how anyone in his/her right minds can build a public meeting place and forget to include toilet facilities, in this day and age. Even in motor parks, places where these things are most needed, they are ridiculously absent. And people sell food in these places.
Diseases emanating from raw sewerage are plenty and affect us. In most cases, we have no water and no public toilet, so what do we expect by way of hygiene? When government builds public buildings without toilets, who can blame the avaricious landlord who lets his property out without a toilet?
Open defecation is one of the indications of our poor hygiene, poor sanitation and lack of respect for the environment. Through open defecation, we provide breeding places not only for mosquitoes, but also germs and vermin. Open defecation is a life threatening practice as contact with human waste can lead to diseases like, coliform, typhoid, cholera, diarrhoea and hepatitis.
There is an urgent need to improve sanitation in Imo State and Nigeria. Government also needs to work with interested world organisations to end open defecation even before the year 2030.