AFRICA’S STATE OF SANITATION

Written by GHANA NI BA NANA OTU DARKO Poet/Pan-Africanist nanaotudarko@yahoo.com

NANA OTU DARKO

Africa, arguably the hope and shining star of the world sadly continues to grow under the shadows and wings of poor sanitation. A challenge which has become extremely futile to overcome.

City planning authorities therefore find it increasingly difficult to arrest this ugly situation. Our inability as a continent to surmount this unending environmental constraints hinges on two major primary foundations including inadequate Governmental commitment towards its eradication and the unpatriotic lousy attitude of most African citizens. A twin reason why we could not achieve the 2015 millennium development goal on sanitation.

 

Proper sanitation which largely borders on safe drinking water, clean environment, personal hygiene and the access to toilet facility is gradually becoming a ferocious Soldier than its Army Commander. In several African nations, access to clean and safe drinking water is gradually becoming a luxury and even more, a reserve for the rich.

This account for the brain behind millions of citizens walking farther miles with large bowls and buckets in hopes of finding nonexistent life. These vulnerable kingmakers are as a result mostly left in state of no choice and often commit to drinking polluted water sometimes destroyed by mining activities. They do this without choice believing that in the absence of nothing bad is good.

Per the general observation of Banki-Moon on March 22, 2012, world water day, the U.N Secretary General reported a significant improvement. According to him close to 90% of the world’s population now have access to adequate clean drinking water compared to 76% a decade ago. The statement as presented by His Excellency Ban-Ki moon is a generic one that must cut across all continents including Africa. The said benefits touted above is still elusive for hundreds of millions living on the African continent. Is it not a shock to see at least 24,000 young people die around the globe annually due to unsafe drinking water? The saddest spectacle is that at least 60% of these vulnerable children emanate from Africa.

 

Eastern Africa is on a serious reverse gear when it comes to the clean score sheet of safe drinking water. This is constantly trumpeted by Yap George, Executive Officer in charge of a Canadian NGO in that belt of this rich continent.

Our inability to arrest this unpleasant situation has resulted in plaguing several familiar and alien diseases on many innocent souls of this enviable soil. The most notable one amongst them is cholera.

As at September, 4 2014 per UNICEF report, Ghana alone attracted over 15,000 cholera cases with 126 death. The toll was increased to 23,000 with corresponding 190 deaths. The menace was prevalent in all ten regions of Ghana. Accra being the most affected with 75% cases and 60% corresponding deaths (WHO, 31/10/2014)

The above plight is as a result of poor sanitation

Africans continue to live in a land where partisanship has overtaken the reigns of selfless leadership. This is a kind of diffusion process that has strongly eaten into the fabric of even patriotic citizenship.

Most African citizens do not care about the consequence of their own actions regarding bad sanitation practice. Some few citizens I have interviewed in the limited number of African countries I have travelled, throw rubbish about indiscriminately just to punish ruling governments they do not belong. This according to them will in the long run make them unpopular in ensuing elections. Some people I equally interviewed, also believe that governments solely receives taxes and hence have the solitary responsibility to clean sanitation knots without any citizen aid. What a joke on the part of these ignorant people.

If only these naïve individuals knew that cholera affected an estimated 3-5million people worldwide and caused at least 58,000-130,000 deaths a year as at 2010 they would come again. The toll unfortunately has increased in Africa whilst depreciated in other continents .In 2015 alone, according to the Global Health Observatory (GHO) data, cholera outbreaks were reported in several African nations notable amongst them are Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Malawi, Tanzania, Somalia and South Sudan.

The negative impact of cholera has always been fatal as it miserably results in countless deaths and placing several children homeless. In DRC alone, cholera affected at least 32 districts. Kenya has continued to report cases since the index case of the outbreak was identified in December, 2014.The outbreak in Tanzania began in august, 2015 resulting in at least 11,563 cases resulting in at least 144 death by the end of 2015.

Open defecation

With reference to Wikipedia, open defecation is the practice of people emptying their bowels outside and not into a designated toilet facility. The term is widely used in literature about water, sanitation, and hygiene   issues in developing countries. Open defecation causes public health problems in areas where people defecate in fields, urban parks, rivers, and open gutters in close proximity to the living space of others. For instance research has proven that at least 5million people defecate indiscriminately in Ghana every day, at least 600 million in Africa and 1.1billion globally. Very few homes in Africa especially in homes like Tanzania and Somalia have access to in-house toilet facility.

Meanwhile eliminating open defecation is the main aim of improving access to sanitation worldwide and is a proposed indicator for sustainable development goals. Even if toilets are available, people still need to be convinced to refrain from open defecation and use toilets. Therefore, the need for behavioral change is critical in addition to the provision of toilets. A preference for open defecation may be due to traditional cultural practices or lack of access to toilets, or both. Extreme poverty and lack of sanitation have direct link. Eliminating open defecation is said to be an important part of development efforts. High levels of open defecation in a country are usually correlated with a high child mortality, as well as high levels of under nutrition, high levels of poverty, and large disparities between rich and poor. Many as a result of the above, die arbitrarily owing to diseases like cholera, malaria and diarrhea which largely emanate from open defecation.

If Africans will continue to die like flies and cockroaches just because of common cholera springing from poor sanitation, a situation we could easily handle as citizens and as governments in this 21st century when other continents like Asia are thinking of new inventions, then I strongly believe that we must all bow our heads down in shame as descendants of the black race. Moreover, I am firmly certain that most African citizens need ATTITUDINAL CHANGE towards perfecting the habit of engaging in poor sanitation on the continent. “AFRICA’S GRAVEST BANE”

Most significantly, unless we come to the realization, that one cannot define governance without including self, our respective African nations shall forever suffer victims to cholera slavery.

Millions of dollars are dished out annually from individual national coffex to help end this ugly spectacle. Meanwhile this huge sum of money could enter other relevant sectors of the economy to promote vital infrastructural development.

This amount of cash could enhance the impoverished lives of the over 700million Africans who are annually caught in the web of poor sanitation due to their own indiscriminate act of indiscipline. At least $28.4billion owes to the search for safe drinking water globally. Not less than 50% of the above amount comes to Africa yet due to our bad attitude of indiscriminate rubbishing, the environment including most of our river bodies get polluted rendering the financial aid still useless.

I as a matter of urgency, implore all African leaders to rise up to the occasion and arrest this chronic ghoulish problem.