Photo Credit: WaterAid/Andrew Esiebo. Maryam Terkuma, 28, by her family toilet in Oryua Nyam, Nigeria. WaterAid has worked with local partners to deliver a water point and latrines in Maryam’s community with the support of the HSBC Water Programme.
As the HSBC Water Programme reaches 1.6 million people with safe, hygienic toilets, WaterAid’s Communications and Advocacy Assistant in Nigeria, Blessing Sani, explains why having a toilet is so important.
For many of us, toilets are ordinary, everyday items that we take for granted. For people like Maryam Terkuma in Nigeria, toilets have transformed her entire community.
Maryam moved to Oryua Nyam, a rural village, when she married. She told me: “The situation was terrible and there was a lot of suffering. There was no clean water and there was excrement everywhere – around your house, the farm and even near the pond where we got water, so the rain would wash it into the pond.
“To make matters worse, people fell sick a lot. Personally, I had stomach aches and painful urination, especially during my pregnancy.”
Today is the UN-recognised World Toilet Day. Worldwide, 2.3 billion people are living without somewhere to go to the toilet. Without a toilet there is no way to prevent your faeces from contaminating your environment. Minute amounts can get on your hands, in your food and water supply, and spread diseases.
It is a particularly serious issue for Nigeria, as highlighted in our report, published today, It’s No Joke: The State of the World’s Toilets 2015.
Around 71% of Nigeria’s people do not have access to a basic toilet and an estimated 11 children in every 1,000 die of diarrhoeal illnesses every year.
This year, for the first time ever, all UN member states have adopted a Global Goal on water and sanitation as part of a 15-year framework to eradicate extreme poverty, tackle inequalities and climate change by 2030.
Meeting targets in Nigeria will take political commitment and financing from the very top. Nigeria must live up to its middle-income status and finance infrastructure accordingly, through taxes and tariffs, and make effective use of traditional aid.
Another obstacle to improving sanitation practices in Nigeria is convincing people to embrace their use. In some rural areas, people might prefer to find a spot in a field rather than use a small, possibly smelly room in their home.
In Oryua Nyam, home to around 300 people, WaterAid’s local partner encouraged the community to build low-cost toilets using locally-available materials. They also provided training on good sanitation and hygiene practices.
Maryam now educates others about hygiene, such as how to clean plates properly and store water safely. She advises that latrines be kept clean and that people wash their hands with soap before eating and after going to the toilet.
Oryua Nyam has recently been declared free of open defecation. People have become knowledgeable about the benefits of good sanitation, and Maryam seems determined for it to stay that way.
She says: “People hardly go to the hospital now. Honestly, there is a great improvement. There is no excrement anywhere… People don’t fall sick like they used to and the water is very good.
“I have no fears or doubts about maintaining this status.”
WaterAid in partnership with the HSBC Water Programme has now reached more than one million people with safe water and 1.6 million people with sanitation across six countries – Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Ghana and Nigeria. Find out more at www.thewaterhub.org