In September 2020, the Kwara State government in a bid to tackle the menace of open defecation in the state rolled out several programmes to reverse the situation, one of which was the “Clean Kwara Campaign”, billed to run from 2020 to 2030.
SaharaReporters' findings have revealed that 20 months after this campaign, many residents still resort to open defecation because of the inability to build toilets in their households.
Even though there are billboards at several locations warning Kwara residents against open defecation and indiscriminate disposal of waste, they seem not to care. Almost everyone whose house is near drainage, bush, or an uncompleted building has turned it into a toilet.
In Ita'adu community of Ilorin East Local Government Area of the state, the dumpsite behind Monsurat’s house serves over 100 households in the area.
Monsurat, who has lived in the area for about 15 years, narrated how the one-time small heap of dirt and poop gradually rose to an expansive dumpsite because 9 out of 10 houses in the community lack sewage facilities.
It was Thursday morning when SaharaReporters visited the community. Residents, mostly children, were seen discharging their faeces openly at the dumpsite.
"In this area, many houses do not have toilets, we did our things openly," said Monsurat, a mother of four.
She continued, "A lot of organisations have come to tell us the danger of open defecation, but we don't get a choice. Most people here are too poor to build good toilet facilities for their respective houses.”
However, another resident, Aminu Idris, told SaharaReporters that the nonchalant attitude of the residents toward the health implications of open defecation and the non-implementation of Kwara State Environmental Law is the major reason the habit is still rampant in major communities in the state.
He said, "Open defecation won't end until the state government needs to bring the law back into force, that is when people will see a reason to build toilets in their houses."
According to UNICEF and the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) report, the north-central region ranks lowest of all geopolitical zones in the number of people using basic water supply, and sanitation services.
Out of the 36 states and the federal capital territory (FCT), Kwara ranks 36th, just a step above Ebonyi which sits at the bottom of the table. According to the report, Kwara ranks highest among states where open defecation is rampant in the country.
Mr Sani Rabiu, a water microbiologist, said there are implications attached to the exposure of humans to human waste. Of such implications are diarrhoea and several other dangerous water-borne diseases.
He said, "Open defecation attracts flies which eventually fly around our environment and infect our foods and drinks. People drink and eat without knowing what they have ingested into their body system. Vector-borne diseases include Dengue fever, West Nile Virus, Lyme disease, and the much popular malaria.
"Another dangerous impact of open defecation is that it pollutes the air we breathe. lt is a cause of heart disease, lung cancer, and respiratory diseases in our communities."
On 7 June 2017, World Health Organization (WHO) was notified of a cholera outbreak in Kwara State, Nigeria, where the event currently remains localized. The first cases of acute watery diarrhoea were reported during the last week of April 2017 and a sharp increase in the number of cases and deaths has been observed since 1 May 2017. However, the number of new cases reported has shown a decline over the last four reporting weeks.
As of 30 June 2017, a total of 1558 suspected cases of cholera have been reported including 11 deaths (case fatality rate: 0.7%). Thirteen of these cases were confirmed by culture in the laboratory. 50% of the suspected cases reported are male and 49% are female (information for gender is missing for 1% of the suspected cases). The disease is affecting all age groups.
Between 1 May and 30 June 2017, suspected cholera cases in Kwara State were reported from five local government areas; Asa (18), Ilorin East (450), Ilorin South (215), Ilorin West (780), and Moro (50) (information for local government areas is missing for 45 of the suspected cases).
Poor sanitation conditions observed in the affected communities are one of the predisposing factors for this cholera outbreak. An important risk factor is the lack of access to clean drinking water and poor hygiene conditions.