Keep It Private

Mama my stomach, I want to poo. Mama I want to poo”… cried 12-year-old Bayuo as she

In the middle of the night, the poor girl woke her mama up because she needed to use the toilet

woke her mother up. Hold on, shouted her father as he searched for a torchlight to give to the wife to take the girl to the Bush to ease herself. This was about the third or fourth time they had gone through this ordeal and it was just 2:30am. This time, luck was not on their side because before they could get to the main entrance of the large compound they share with other tenants, 12-year-old Bayuo had already eased on herself and the watery stool was all over the place.  Her mother who stood with hands on her waist in an akimbo position could not help but hit the poor girl who was already suffering on the head.That involuntary action by the mother sent the girl sprawling to the ground and it looked as if life had left her body…

This is just one of the few challenges people who do not have toilets in their homes go through. Unfortunately, when people are putting up their houses, they often overlook the importance of a toilet. In the past, people were few, buildings were few, there was a lot of vast unused land and bushes all around so

people could go into the bush, do their business and come back home.


Some people carry these cans in their cars or motorbikes to go to the bush

We can call it ignorance but what about those university students who carry ablution cans on motorbikes to go into the Bush to attend to nature’s call? One day I was walking on the street when this sleek Toyota Venza car passed by me and stopped about four hundred (400) metres away. I was so excited that I’ll get a lift from a sleek car, you can imagine my excitement when the car door opened, in my head I said the driver is so gentle enough to want to get down and walk to me only to meet my disappointment. He was holding an abulution can! He greeted me and walked into the bush with his can! If people are rich enough to buy cars, why can’t they put up a toilet in their homes or pay to use public toilets. Again, if people have the resources; land, labour, money etc to put up a house, can’t they add a toilet? Who designs the plan of the house?

Who supervises the construction work? Could they not have ensured that toilets are included in the plan? The reasons may not be far-fetched, my grandmother says that you have to do your business in the Bush so that air can blow on you while you’re doing it. Sometimes too she says you can be sure you have actually poopooed when grass sweeps your buttocks in the bush. Open defecation is the human practice of defecating outside in the open environment rather than in a toilet. People may choose fields, bushes, forests, ditches, streets, canals or other open space for defecation. They do so because either they do not have a toilet at home or due to traditional cultural practices. The practice is common where sanitation infrastructure and services are not available. Even if toilets are available, efforts may still be needed to promote the use of toilets.

The effects of open defecation on socio-economic development cannot be over-emphasised. Health experts have confirmed that there is a direct correlation between open defecation and diseases such as typhoid, dysentery and cholera among others. There is no doubt that in the wake of a cholera outbreak, government spend huge sums of money in the procurement of medications in trying to support and to manage the problem. Apart from government spending so much money in managing the situation and saving lives, the productive sectors such as agriculture, industries and trade among others are all affected and this leads to low productivity as many affected workers cannot or are unable to go to work.
Some people also lose their lives during outbreak of diseases.
19th November is World Toilet day

We’re all contributing to this problem in one way or another. Landowners, policy makers, Environmental Health officers,  landlords and landladies, tenants and all of us. But enough of the blame for now, what can we do to curb this problem? How do we correct this? It is sad that we have to go into the bush, or go to the shores of water bodies to attend to nature’s call in many of our communities. Efforts have been made by a lot of stakeholders both local and international to curb this but the result is nothing to write home about. Some of the efforts to curb open defecation include campaigns on the effects of open defecation, radio talk shows, visits to schools to educate students on open defecation, passing laws in communities on open defecation and giving punishment to those who break them, among others. November 19 every year is set aside as world toilet day, all these are efforts to save us from the effects of open defecation. In recent times, government and stakeholders are encouraging people to have toilets in their homes, so

that we can have very few public toilets around. In addition to the campaign to putting up toilets in homes, people are also encouraged to wash their hands with soap and running water.

In as much as we sensitize people about the need to have toilets in their homes and

There have been a lot of campaigns to stop open defecation and other unhealthy sanitary practices

reduce unhealthy sanitary practices such as open defecation, we should also focus on touching on the feelings and emotions if the people we are preaching (so to speak) to. Let’s give accolades

to those who have toilets in their homes; give them titles of recognition, when important visitors come to the community, let people who have toilet facilities receive them, hang flags on their roofs (May sound ridiculous but trust me, people will want to get recognised) to show everyone that these are the people with toilets in the community. By so doing, we appeal to their emotions and feelings, even though the problem won’t solve fully, it’ll reduce.

Apart from that, officials who give building permit should see to it that people have included toilets in their building plans and also build them when they start building. As necessary as toilets and kitchens are, most people forget about them, we’re more interested in where to lay our heads than where to poo.

Even though public toilets are discouraged, half a loaf is better than none


The journey to achieving Sustainable Development Goals three (Good health and well-being) and six (clean water and sanitation) is long and rough. There’s therefore the need for us all to put in more efforts to fight open defecation and other unhealthy sanitation practices.
Together we can do this.












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  1. The problem of open defecation has been an age long one. Continuous public sensitization like this is needed to over come this problem. Good piece my dear, keep it up.

  2. Good work done my daughter. It is a very good write-up on a sensitive subject that a lot of people ignore. But awareness creation like you have started, with a narrative touch can be transforming. congratulations, you are a good writer and I encourage you to do more in this area of literature. produce a book on the subject matter. I like the scenario you presented.

  3. Sadly we do not add toilet facilities in our scale of preferences in the aspect of construction, meanwhile it’s supposed to be the foremost since our very health revolves around it.

    Bravo for using your space to remind us. I hope we embrace it honorably and change asap.

    Keep writing madam

  4. This is a perfect social canker which the blind can even see. However, we tend to keep mute on the issue right from the individual household to the government. I hope this will touch our conscience to change. I remember when former president Rawlings chastised Ghanaians on this issue and said even the cat covers its feaces, it eventually became an ethnic rivalry issue. Hmmmmmm

  5. As you rightly put it, people are more concerned about where to put their heads than where to poo. People have had to make a life long savings in order to get a chamber and hall. To such people putting up a toilet facility is an extra cost.
    I understand there are NGO s who are able to aid households put toilets/latrines at subsidised prices. Could you research on them may be have a sequel of this write equally putting to bare these NGOs to the benefit of your readers

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