By Hassan A. Bamidele, Hassanmmusaa@yahoo.com
Hassan Bamidele, Chair, WASH Media Network in Zamfara state, Northern Nigeria examines the status of water supply, sanitation, and hygiene in the state.
Flooding and water contamination
A fallout of the recent flood that ravaged major Zamfara villages is likely outbreak of an epidemic . In Dangulbi village, for instance where buildings were heavily submerged by water Public health is highly endangered among residents as the water sources are heavily polluted, and there is increase incidences of water borne diseases among little children.
The District Head of the village, Malam Ubaidu appealed for donation of drugs to ‘de worm the children against water borne disease.”
Unsafe drinking water supply
The WASH situation in Kambarawa and other villages of Kaura-Namoda Local Government of Zamfara State Is highly appaling.
- Water is several wells in the villages are polluted and contaminated necessitating being declared unsafe for use.
- Dump sites have contaminated underground water making them toxic, yet people still fetch this water for domestic use. Villages dig holes to fetch water that comes out brownish in colour,filterate and Use the residue domestically.
A group of nine villages including Lambar-Kurya, has no good toilet facilities for their public schools Resulting in feacal residues swimmings back to the available streams where residents source drinking water.
Ubaidu Sani a resident of Kurya Madara settlement in Kaura Namoda Local Government bitterly complained:“our water smells, and people are complaining of itching and skin rashes coupled with dysentery, diarrhea etc”
At Kasuwar Daji Bridge, residents indiscriminately dump garbage just any where and contaminates the ponds, wells, streams that harbors little water for their daily consumption.
Many communities in these villages have sad tales to tell as they search for water all most every day.
Yearly, diarrhea, dysentary and other acute respiration infections are responsive for the deaths of children in the above listed/visited villages as a result of their poor source of drinking water, poor sanitary conditions and filty environment.
Situation of WASH in Schools
In most of the schools, zinc built kitchens are always close to the few public toilets available in the schools.
- Poor hygiene practices-Most of the kitchen staff’s are with their children whereas these children defecate anywhere and pour sand on top to cover it up close to the kitchen premises.
- Majority of the students defecated at the back of the few available toilets in the bushy parts close to the kitchen because these few toilets have poor facilities and they feared that they may contact diseases when they use them.
In Government Girls Secondary School, Samaru, Gusau, Zamfara State, the hand dug well provides water for the school kitchen is not well covered and situated close to the School incinerator where refuse/dirts were normally dumped for burning. At times particles from flames seep into the well.
The schools toilets facilities are in bad shape and hand washing practices is almost non existent among students.
Excerpts of an Interview with a school pupil
What is your name and which class are you?
My name is Zainab Mailafia Gusau. I am in JSS 3A.
And I am the Ameerah (Head of the female Muslims students in the junior section of the school).
What is yours reaction on the poor sanitary conditions that has enveloped the school?
Lets me start by saying that healthy-hygiene orientation should be inculcated in either the curriculum or extra curricular activities in all the schools in the state because most houses in this part of the country are not health conscious.
They don’t know it as a sin or an offence. Hence they say charity begins at home, so said the adage but the reverse is the case, let us then take charity from outside and bring it home for us to imbibe or copy.
Most of the schools in the state are provided with inadequate toilets facilities. The available ones has been badly used or damaged by the students-user.
No cleaner to wash or disinfect it. During weekly inspection days, the mistress incharge orders the students to clean up the place but after cleaning, the affected students will not properly hand-wash themselves. So they carry these infected hands to the kitchen to collect their morning breakfast.
Are you saying that Government/School Authorities are responsible for these poor sanitary conditions?
Of courses yes, as government can not do it all, lets them call corporate bodies viz banks and other companies in the state to observe their Corporate Social Responsibilities (CSR) by coming to the improvement of these poor sanitary conditions in these schools all over the state.
Can you enumerate the measures to be use or adopted?
- Let there be storage tanks in keeping water for students use.
- Let them bring enough detergents i.e. Omo, Soaps for proper hand washing after toilet use.
- Let the students use these soap and water before going for their breakfast
- Let them buys buckets – that is one bucket – one classroom with many cups for student consumptions.
- Let the kitchen be far away from the public toilets to be constructed.
- Let there be orientation/training for the kitchen staff on proper and good sanitary conditions when preparing food for the students.
- Let them build adequate toilets with disinfecting equipment and cleaners and adequate water provisions.
- Let them provide working ceiling fans in all the classrooms and remove the students from all racker buildings constructed by the Yarima’s administration. This is because it absorbs heat coupled with the severe heat period/season. Anytime the students takes bean cake called “Kosai” in Hausa or the day they take boiled egg as their breakfast, the entire classrooms are heavily polluted, most especially these rackers buildings classrooms, thus becoming entirely not conducive for learning and infections can easily emits in such environment.
If these measures were strictly adhere to, the students will be disease free and will carry the much eluded charity that suppose to follow them from home back to their destination.
Thank you Zainab for your audience:
Thank you Sir.
The story is published under the pro poor WASH stories project implemented by the Water and Sanitation Media Network Nigeria, with the support of West Africa WASH Media Network, WaterAid, and Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council.