Urges govt, partners to construct user-friendly toilets
By Suzan Edeh, Bauchi
Bauchi- Users of public toilets, particularly women and girls in Bauchi State have decried the deplorable state of public toilets in the state, calling on government and partners to construct toilets that will be user-friendly and accessible for them to use.
Water Aid Nigeria in partnership with the Bauchi State Ministry of Environment and Rural Development, Bauchi state Environmental Protection Agency(BASEPA), Bauchi State Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency (RUWASSA) and other stakeholders recently conducted an accessibility and safety audit of mapped out public toilets in the state in order to come up with an improved design of public toilets, particularly for women and girls to ensure that they are safe, accessible as well as cater for their menstrual hygiene management.
In some of the public toilets visited at the Muda Lawal Motor park, Wunti Market and Ibrahim Babangida Square in the state Metropolis, the toilets were designed in such a way that only men were the predominant users with no separate compartments for women and girls.The toilets were not also accessible for persons on wheelchair as there was no carriage way for those on wheelchairs.
In most of the public toilets, laundry businesses were conducted by men, a situation that has generated safety concerns for women and girls.
At the Mudal Lawal Motor Park, Mrs Angela Julius who finished using the public toilet at the park complained about how insecured she was whenever she uses a public toilet, saying that there is no privacy for women as they cannot urinate easily as men because they need to undress at least partially for both urination and defecation, which requires more space, privacy and time.
“Using public toilets in public places as woman is so challenging.Apart from the fact that the place is unhygienic for a woman, we don’t have privacy because we share the same toilet with the men.Again, this place is surrounded by men who can take advantage of a woman using the public toilet, especially at night,” She said.
Hannatu Mohammed and Kaiziya Haruna said that women, girls and people living with disabilities, particularly those on wheel chairs are at risk of sexual violence, harassment and physical violence when they are forced to defecate in the open because of the fact that the public toilets are not accessible for them.
“Some women, girls and other persons with disabilities prefer to defecate in the open because the public toilets are not accessible for them.Some of them defecate in unsafe, dark or badly located toilets and this exposes them to attacks by criminals,” Hannatu said.
One of the public toilet operator, Musa Mohammed at the Wunti market complained that the design of the toilet was not user friendly for women, girls and persons using wheelchairs.
Speaking on user-friendly and accessible toilets for women and girls, the Programme Monitoring, Evaluation and Report Officer of WaterAid Nigeria, Mr Mashat Mallo, stated that WaterAid Nigeria in partnership with WaterAid Australia with funding from a donor known as “Who Gives a Crap ” is working on the second phase of an impact acceleration innovation challenge which ensures that women and girls can use public toilets with dignity without worries.
“If public toilets are not accessible and comfortable for use, people are likely to defecate in the open even when the toilets are available.So what this innovation challenge is helping us do, is for us to work with government ministries and Agencies responsible for toilets in public places such as markets and motor parks, to ensure that these toilets are user friendly, in particular female friendly.”
“So our innovation idea is around user center design of public toilets and by user center design, we mean like working with the users, particularly women and girls, taking feed back from them to design toilets that meets their needs,” he said.