Regarded as one of the world’s most pressing developmental challenges, open defecation is a common but worrisome practice in both rural communities and urban slums because not every resident has access to toilet or improved sanitation and this poses serious threat to human health. As effort to stop open defecation intensifies, the nation’s capital’s rural communities may have a long way to go. Damakusa, a local community under Kundu ward in Kwali Area Council of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) is not considering the possibility of the situation coming to an end soon. The community’s healthcare centre was constructed without toilet in place, a situation that forces both patients and the Community Health Extension Worker (CHEW) attached to the clinic to defecate in the nearby bush.
The community health worker in the centre, Samuel Mayaki, disclosed to Aso Chronicle that he defecated in the open because there was no toilet in the clinic. The situation, he said, affects both the health and comfort of the health visitors. “When I’m pressed, I go to thebush to relieve myself. No any alternative other than the bush because when you look round, there is no toilet nearby. Mayaki told this reporter that if he was pressed, he would tell him to enter the bush behind the primary school to defecate. He added that: “When patients request for toilet, we tell them to use the nearby bush.” The problem is not peculiar to the clinic, residents of the community, including the village head also defecate in the bush.
A resident, Dinatu Jonathan, mother of five, said she gave birth to all her children at home because the health centre was not well-equipped, adding that the condition of the facility discouraged her and other women in the community from visiting the centre to seek healthcare services. Water scarcity is another challenge plaguing the community. There is only one borehole in the entire village and it was overstretched. Residents said they contributed money to fix the borehole whenever it stops working because there was no any alternative to water source.The health worker had also informed that: “A health centre cannot be run without water. The clinic needs water as well. This morning, a child with high fever was brought here and before treatment, he needed to be sponged. And it is water we will use to do that.”
He, however, noted that he has complained to the authorities and is still waiting for response. “This year, we have met with the HOD to table our challenges in areas of facilities. When we had our meeting in January, we wrote a memo stating all our demands and the HOD promised to take it to the area council for necessary action. We are waiting for response,”