By Femi Bolaji, Jalingo
The Fulani community of Yammawar Kafawa in Dambatta local government area of Kano State had, over the years, been plagued by water borne diseases like diarrhoea and cholera.*Inside one of the pit toilets
The situation brought so much pains to families affected and the community in general.
The community, with a population of 1649, is predominantly peasant farmers and cattle rearers.
But the story for them today is different as the situation has changed and neighbouring communities tapping into their approach to escape water borne diseases.
Yammawar Kafawa is one of the three Open Defecation Free, ODF, communities in Kano State out of the 77 triggered communities in six local government areas through the Sanitation, Hygiene and Water in Nigeria, SHAWN, project, supported by the United Kingdom Agency for International Development, UKaid; United Nations Children Fund, UNICEF, and the Federal Government.
Open Defecation, OD, was not only practiced in Yammawar Kafawa community but also a norm in most rural communities across the country.
Some urban dwellers also engage in the act.
Nigerians engaging in OD are estimated to be about 47 million spread across the six geopolitical zones of the country.
Ibrahim Inusa is a resident of Yammawar Kafawa and has two wives and six children.
Narrating the trend in his community, Inusa told our correspondent, who is one of the 40 journalists who recently visited the community during the launch of Federal Government’s ‘Use The Toilet’ campaign in Kano, that he and several households had been victims of cholera at different times.
Inusa, who has herds of cattle and is also a peasant farmer, took our correspondent to his house and lamented the hardship he faced to foot the bills of his child who contracted cholera sometime ago.
He attributed the cause of the ailment to ignorance on his part and the community who never thought emptying their bowels openly could be the cause of their predicament.
“It was when I took my child to hospital that I was told he had cholera. This is not limited to my household as several others too were affected”, he said in Hausa language.
“As a peasant farmer, it was difficult to settle the bills, but my child’s life was more important to me.
“If most of our children were not given adequate medical attention at the time, by now we would not have off springs to take after us since we are ageing”.
On Open Defecation, Inuwa said, “We were used to it but when intervention came, we were educated on the effects on our wellbeing.
Open defecation: Nigeria ranked second in the World — FG(Opens in a new browser tab)
“It was difficult to adapt to the new method but we are grateful that there is widespread behavioural change in our community.
“Each household now has a toilet with the support of those who brought about the behavioural change to our people and neighbouring communities are now adopting our method.
“As I speak, Open Defecation is prohibited in this community both for indigenes and visitors and defaulters liable to strict punishment.
“Consequent upon the behavioural change, we have not had any case of cholera or diarrhoea in a long time.”
The village head of Yammawar Kafawa, Rabiu Usman, while reeling out the measures employed to curb the prevalence of OD, said the community collectively agreed to impose fine on defaulters.
“A fine of N2, 000 was imposed on kids who defecate openly which their parents would pay while N3, 000 was the penalty for open defecation for adults”, Usman said.
“Added to this is that the person will have to pack the faeces with his hands to teach potential defaulters a lesson”.
He noted that the measure has really helped the community as most of residents have adhered strictly to the use of toilet.
“Before, there used to be outbreak of cholera and diarrhoea but since compliance there has not been any of such”, the village head said.
“Each household has a toilet and an emergency toilet is also available in the village square in case one needs to use it when not in the house and also for visitors.
“There is soap and water for hand washing after defecating at the village square toilet.”
When our correspondent checked some of the facilities, mostly pit latrines, there was a drop hole cover to prevent the smell oozing from the latrines and tippy taps and kettles for hand washing.”
The village head further disclosed that the community, which hopes to remain Open Defecation Free,ODF, has raised a patrol team to monitor compliance.
“There is a daily special patrol team that monitors the community and hunts those defecating openly”, he said.
“We are fully committed to sustaining the tempo and extend the dispensation to other communities.”
One of the local government rural Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, WASH, personnel, Ado Abdullahi Usman, who spoke to our correspondent, said the situation, since 2017, has yielded positive results.
“We supervise this community and I can tell you that water was a major problem initially”, he said.
“This even predates the practice of Open Defecation which today is history with the intervention that is now being enjoyed.”
During an advocacy visit to the District Head of Dambatta, Sarkin Bai, Dr Muhktar Adanan, the monarch pleaded with the implementing agencies to extend its catchment areas to other communities in the LGA.
He explained that most of the people in select communities were initially reluctant to use their resources to build toilets.
“But having realised the benefit, the buy-in process became easier and they took ownership of the programme in their communities”, the district Head said.
“There is a remarkable behavioural change in communities currently enjoying the intervention because there has been reduction in diseases and also availability of water and toilets”.
Of the 774 local government areas in Nigeria, 11 has been certified OPF.
This leaves 763 LGAs across the six geo-political zones to be captured.
The Use the Toilet Campaign, spear-headed by the Federal Ministry of Water Resources, with the support of UNICEF and other development partners, targets ending OD by 2025 and achieving universal access to safely managed sanitation by 2030.
Meanwhile, Nigeria ranks second among countries practicing OD globally according to 2018 WASH National Outcome Routine Mapping survey.
The situation spurred the Federal Government into action by declaring a state of emergency on the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene sector, thus paving way for the behavioural change ‘Use The Toilet’ campaign.
While Nigeria needs about 2 million toilets between now and 2025 to achieve the target Universal Basic Sanitation, the current delivery of improved toilet yearly is 160,000.
To achieve this, journalists, at a roundtable session in Kano, advocated for an integrated approach to ensure the country achieves its set target by 2025.
While Community Led Total Sanitation, CLTS, has been identified as effective in achieving behavioural change from OD, as in the case of Yammawar Kafawa and others, the professionals urged the implementing agencies to engage more with state governments to take ownership of the campaign.
This, they believed, would pave the way for increased budgetary allocation for the WASH sector and expected to trickle down to various communities through their LGAs.