heir faces contoured and they squirmed as the pictures scrolled on the projector. A tiny box room with a small round hole... a zinc hut in the bush...a mobile chair toilet.... some strange looking latrines and finally the modern and flushable toilet! It was really a surprise for these youngsters as they discovered the "History of the Toilet," during a Library class; part of a series on Inventions that Changed the World. The first flush toilet was used in Britain. Most of these children in a private school in Lagos have never seen a Pit Latrine! In fact, they did not even know that such a thing exists! Most children today are fortunate because they would never have to struggle to "forever delete" unpleasant public convenience experience which the older generations have endured and survived. Today, in some places, "lavatory luxury" is available as people are demanding a better and healthier standard of service in public places.
Personal service providers are including elegant washrooms as part of excellent customer services. In addition, mobile toilets are available at some bus stops, markets, and parks, which are used for a token. These are also available at parties and other high capacity events. More can, and should be done in an effort to place a value on Public Health. There is a need to continue to raise the sanitation standard in the country. Basic Sanitation in both rural and urban areas is also a project critical to the United Nations and is a core part of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) under environmental sustainability, which aims to increase the population of those that have access to improved basic sanitation by 2015.
It was a long drive away from home when a child suddenly said to mum, "I need to go to the toilet." "But I thought you did before we left home" mum replied swiftly. "Yes mummy, but my stomach hurts now, I need to go quickly...It is coming!" Hmm.....every parent knows what that means......So imagine being stuck in Lagos traffic and thoughts race through your head on what to do. Thankfully, there was a KFC restaurant round the corner! Well, mother would break the rule today because the amenity is for customers only! The staff smiled as she marched hurriedly with her "troops" to the restroom. It was a pleasant relief! The toilet was spic and span and flushable, with toilet roll, hand washing soap and a hand dryer. A very classy touch! This is just one of the many fast food restaurants in Lagos which are springing up in urban areas and are setting new rest room standards. Notable are TFC (Tasty Fried Chicken) and Chicken Republic restaurants. New malls also have a high standard of hygiene and restrooms are meticulously maintained. Nigerians are more aware and enlightened now so there is a conscious effort to try and stop the indiscrete answering of the call of nature on the streets, bushes and drainages! It is really a "culture" ingrained deeply in the society and it will be difficult to eradicate completely, because the reality is that public amenities is not often a priority in community planning. And in most cases, there is no running water to ensure that proper personal hygiene is effective.
We are a nation blessed with a booming population. This comes with its own challenges; the people always exceed the available facility. Public infrastructure including toilets need to be factored and built in more conspicuous places and should be abundant. Public schools (Primary, secondary and universities) need exceptional attention. More service stations with restrooms for road travellers, more offices with toilets, and adequate lavatory luxuries where people can have "dignity" answering the call of nature even at massive religious camps and other public gatherings. These are all stamps of development. It is interesting to discover that a world authority in public conveniences; a Professor in the UK who is a town planner and a "Toilet Evangelist!" said,
"A nation is judged by its toilets, it's one of the first images tourists and visitors getů"
The elderly, women with young children and the disabled need to use these services and it is important that funding be available to provide such in Nigeria. Do you know that there is a British Toilet Association (BTA)? It is their responsibility to inspect the standard of public Loos!
Promoting good and healthy hygiene is the responsibility of everybody in the country. It is however important that we also have an environment and a system that supports good sanitary behaviour. People will respond positively when they feel that there is a value placed on their health and welfare. There must be alternatives to dissuade citizens from disregarding the "Do not Urinate or Do not Defecate" sign. The public health of our nation is a three way partnership; Individuals, Private and Public.....Everyone must join the campaign to promote a clean and healthy environment.