There are unverified claims by the Bauchi State government over the certification of some local councils as being free from open defecation. In this report, Usman Babaji unravels the real situation of some public toilets in Dass Local Government where the facilities were last renovated three decades ago.
In 2017, the Bauchi state government declared Dass Local Government Area as one of the 774 local councils certified ‘Open Defecation Free (ODF)’ in the country.
According to the state government, the achievement was attained with support from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United Kingdom’s Department For International Development (DFID) and the Bauchi State Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency (RUWASSA).
UNICEF, in 2020, certified 1,500 communities in four local government areas of Bauchi State as open defecation free, disclosing that Dass, Warji, Bogoro and Gamawa had provided access to basic sanitation facilities.
However, WikkiTimes’ visit to Dass showed that the certification claims were exaggerated or misleading as shortage of toilets facilities remain a topical concern while open defecation takes center stage.
For instance, Dass market is located in the center of the town and surrounded by residences. Tellingly, there are only three public toilets situated at different locations in the market.
Odour oozing out from the facilities also question general sanitation in the market. It takes tip-toeing to escape stepping on human feces scattered around the market.
Beside one of the toilets, is a refuse dumping center where animals were spotted roaming about. Because of the bad situation of the toilet, most people resorted to defecating on the heap of the refuse even amid the outcry by marketers and residents.
Musa Abba, a trader, lamented the gory condition of the site, adding that it is unbearable. This, according to him, forced marketers and residents to resort to open defecation.
He disclosed that the problem was not peculiar to the market alone, but to other places especially schools.
Malam Garba Usman, the Chairman of Dass Market, in a chat with WikkiTimes said the toilets need overall rehabilitation as most structures were dilapidated.
“We have about three toilets,” Usman affirmed. “In fact we have challenges with some of the toilets. Old motor park toilet is one of the most challenging ones, it’s too bad. The structure is there but beside it there is a refuse dump where people now resort to defecating as a result of the deplorable condition of the toilets.”
Usman said most of the marketers do not use the toilets. “They defecate in the open,” he added, explaining the toilet was renovated last about a decade ago. He explained that Dass was one of the areas mostly ravaged by seasonal hygiene-related diseases like cholera outbreak.
He said he feels bad whenever he goes there because of the odour in the site, calling on people to desist from what he described as a primitive act.
Similarly, in Darussalam Nomadic School, where about 350 pupils learn, unhygienic toilets have posed a great threat to the pupils, their teachers, and residents of Dass community whose houses are close to the facility.
The Head teacher of the school Sirajo Kaka Muhammad told WikkiTimes the school had experienced cholera outbreak.
“Look at the toilet now, no one can use it,” said Muhammad. “And the stagnant water is a place where mosquitoes reproduce. Our pupils defecate anywhere and that is why we usually have cholera outbreaks in this community.”
Such is the similar scenario in other schools like Wuro Jabbi Nomadic Primary School Dass, where over 243 pupils, according to WikkiTimes’ findings, have no access to toilet facilities.