Poor sanitation: The story of Gege community in Oyo State
He bent down comfortably without any qualm, defecating openly into the flowing stream, flanked by heaps of wastes.
Nobody seems to care about open defecation and proper waste disposal at Gege neighbourhood. It has become their lifestyle and daily routine. As most of the houses in the neighbourhood have no toilet facilities, the nearby river has become their point of disposing of both refuse and human waste.
Gege, how it started…
Gege is one of the ancient neighbourhoods in Ibadan in Oyo state. It is surrounded by some prominent places in Ibadan like Agbeni market and Orita Merin.
The neighbourhood derived its name from the stream around there, the Gege stream, which has historically served as a source of water for domestic use. But it is now the destination of wastes.
In the words of a resident call Alfa Eleyin , a cleric, “the neighborhood has remained the centre of dumping refuse for almost every one living there, since its inception till now, although some of us are trying to change our ways at least, if we burn our refuse, it will reduce the dirt and unhealthy living in the neighborhood.”
Another resident, a fish seller who begged for anonymity, said “it is so sad that our environment has been tagged that name, but that happened because of the dirtiness of the environment which has become the way of life of people here, although, almost all houses in the neighbourhood do not have any toilet facilities and any form of incinerator where we can dump refuse. So people have turned the river Gege to their toilets and their dumping ground and this has caused a lot of uncleanliness in the environment, can you see this river?”
According to UNICEF in 2015, over 110 million lacked access to improved sanitation with open defecation put at 28.5%.
Similarly, in 2015, The Nigeria Bureau of statistics revealed that only 60.3 per cent of Nigerians use safely managed sanitation services.
Residents interviewed said they had not felt the government in terms of provision of sanitation services.
According to the Public Relations Officer of the Ministry of Health in Oyo state, Atilola Abiodun, “Gege is just an environment in Ibadan just like other environments such as Bodija and other neighbourhoods. The problem we have with the environment is that people in that neighbourhood are always defecating and dumping refuse in the river in the neighbourhood which is not good.”
He added, “I believe it is the responsibility of both the government and people to keep the State clean. We have taken steps on ‘one house one waste bin’ policy to clean up the menace in the whole state”