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14.05.2008 General News

Indiscriminate defecation: A gradual eradication of cleanliness

By Helena Selby - Ghanaian Chronicle

Cleanliness they say is
next to Godliness. Does this mean one who does not
practice cleanliness is very far from the practice of Godliness? If really cleanliness is next to Godliness, then one can say emphatically that, Ghana can be described as one of the cleanest countries in the world, since she has about 70% of her population claiming to Godly, in terms of the Christian religion.

It is very pathetic that the Godly people of this country, do not give much respect to the hygiene and sanity of the country, but defecate anywhere they feel like, without regard to hygiene.

Despite the existence of civilization, and the campaign for good health, some people defecate wherever they find convenient, and leave the environment very dirty and stinky. The surprising thing is that, these supposed places of defecation, are mostly in the midst of the homes of people, placing them at a high risk of disease infection.

What has become of the people of Ghana? Gone were the days when the act if defecating openly, was an act solely practiced by children. It very sad to realize that this sordid act has been taken over by matured and elderly people. The act of defecating along roadsides has become something that people do not feel shy about. The observation is that, apart from Ashaiman, which is considered a place of filth and dirt, some people also defecate along the Accra-Tema motorway, and along some of the streets of Kanda, a suburb of the capital, Accra.

Human excreta disposition
In Ghana, owing to the living standards of people, and the nature of accommodation, people do not get access to the proper way of disposing of human excreta - through the Water Closet (WC). However due to the difficulty in accessing WCs, the Kumasi Ventilation Improved Pit (KVIP) is commonly used.
The main purpose of the KVIP is to reduce the disadvantage of the odour problem, and nuisance of flies. Pit latrines are the simplest solution to human excreta disposal. They can be implemented, not only in rural areas, but also in municipalities. According to the opinion of SCIENCE DIRECT, the use of pit the latrine, in general, has to be excluded in areas with a density of more than 250 habitats per capital.
Sometimes, in places where people do not have access to both the WC and the KVIP, the only option they mostly clinch to, is digging a hole, and after doing their ablutions, cover it to prevent it from producing odour.
What causes this action?

According to medical experts, it is advisable for every human being to bring out excreta or defecate at least once everyday. When one is only able to free his or her bowel twice weekly, one can be said to have constipation. SCIENCE DIRECT, describing what constipation is, described it as infrequent stool-passing of hard stool, or straining to have bowel movement. It is usually due to lack of dietary fiber, and it is commonly treated with laxatives.

Freeing of one's bowel frequently is a good habit, and is good for the health. However, disposing of it carefully and responsibly is the central idea. Though this is important, people find it difficult adhering to the courtesy of disposing of it properly. The explanation is that, especially from people of Ashaiman, there are not enough KVIPs in the town. Sometimes, they have to wake up very early in the morning, to go and form very long queues, just to have about 10 minutes access to a pit latrine. This makes them end up arriving at their work places late.

Some people also decide to defecate along roadsides, because they complain the pit latrine is too stinky, and so find it difficult to use. They believe they could contract diseases, especially with the excessive heat generated from the pit, when one is using it. Some of them secretly defecate in polythene bags, and leave them on the streets, and garbage bins, or on the frontage of nearby houses.

How important is human excreta?

Despite the truth that human excreta exposure is not safe in a human environment, when properly processed it could be used as fertilizer for farming, and also in the production of methane gas for domestic purposes. Human excreta can be described as a waste human product for safe recycling of the plant nutrient present as fertilizer, and also a natural resource, which is always available in all societies.

In SCIENCE DIRECT's opinion about human excreta, it noted that though very unfortunate the value of human excreta is highly underestimated, in present agriculture and horticulture, in many tropical developing countries. Especially human urine is rich in nitrogen. This “free” fertilizer should be used as much as possible. In many cases, human urine and compost human faeces, could be fortified with wood ash, kitchen and garden waste, to meet the potassium and phosphorus needs of plants, and to improve soil structure.

Diseases associated with unhygienic environments

According to medical experts, human excreta contain 400 different species of bacteria and viruses. With the presence of these bacteria and viruses in the environment, surely there will be no doubt that foods and drinks would be contaminated.

The end results of contaminated foods and drinks are usually associated with diseases. Some diseases, associated with contaminated or unhygienic meals or water, include typhoid fever, cholera and diarrhoea.

According to the MedicalNet.Com, these diseases are contracted through the ingestion of the bacteria, in contaminated food or water. The bacteria especially that of typhoid, is deposited in water or food by a human carrier, and is then spread to other people in the area. Clean water supplies, and effective waste disposal systems, are the best ways of preventing typhoid, and also foods that are properly cooked and well preserved, or fruits they peel themselves.

Other preventive measures are drinking only water, which has been boiled or treated with chlorine or iodine. Other safe beverages include tea and coffee, made with boiled water, and carbonated bottled beverages with no ice. Eat only foods which have been thoroughly cooked, and are still hot. Avoid undercooked or raw fish and shellfish.

Results of defecating along roadsides

“God bless our homeland Ghana and make our nation great and strong,” goes our national anthem. How can our nation be blessed and made strong, if some of the citizens are not really pulling their weight to help ourselves, for God to also help us to be great and strong.

It is the responsibility of the citizens to make the nation attractive to foreigners, to boost investments in the country.

Despite the fact that it is the desire of many people to achieve this great dream, the practice of defecating along roadsides, is an eye-sore and a nuisance to foreigners. Apart from making the environment terribly stinky, it as well tarnishes the image of the nation. No wonder some foreigners describe some parts of the country, especially parts of Kanda and the Accra-Tema motorway, as stinking.

The attitude of indiscriminate defecating also makes the place a disease-prone area. If medical experts say the use of pit latrine, has to be excluded in areas with a density of more than 250 habitats per capital, then a town like Ashaiman should have about 100 KVIPs, since its habitats are more than a 3,000, with a very few number of KVIPs.

However, the situation is not so, with a town as populated as Ashaiman, it can only boast of very few KVIPs. Taking into consideration diseases related to unhygienic environment, the possibility of diseases like cholera, typhoid and diarrhoea erupting is high there. If God is to really bless and make strong our homeland, what role will the citizens play, if they are always sick?

The ozone layer's gradual depletion can be attributed to the immense odour in the environment. One might wonder what the ozone layer really is; well, according SCIENCE DIRECT, the ozone layer, found miles above the Earth's crust, is our defense against the ultraviolet radiation from the sun's rays. The Ozone layer in the atmosphere protects the earth from deadly radiation. Ozone destroys bacteria, viruses, mould, and mildew. It also eliminates odours in the air, such as smoke.

Conclusion
Cleanliness in the country depends on the citizens. We, therefore, have the responsibility of building up attitudes, which will help maintain the hygiene of the nation, since it would be a tragedy for its citizens, should an epidemic strike.

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