by John Akudago, Senior Research Associate
Everyone knows that when you cross red traffic light, a ticket is given and the court can deal with you if you fail to pay the fine in developed world. This system of checks and balances makes it difficult for one careless driver to endanger others. It is not the same in water and sanitation sector especially in developing countries where one person’s mistake or negligence can negatively affect several people. Crossing when the traffic light turns red means you are endangering the lives of other road users. Similarly, failing to protect or keep water sources and sanitation facilities clean could equally result in several diseases and deaths.
In Bulimiogou, a suburb of Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso, sanitation is a major problem. The toilets are poorly maintained, cost of desludging is too high (15,000 CFA/desludging, US$1=450 CFA), according to the leader of union de femmes pour development de Boulimiogou (UFDB). The photo below shows the group during the session.
According to the women, the Ecosan design, which is to help ease desludging has problem with urine diversion and not age friendly. In order to address desludging, people wait for rainy days to pour out the excreta into the drains so that the running water can transport excreta away from homes while others have also resorted to open defecation. Another issue with sanitation is waste disposal: lack of connection between households and waste collectors; central collection is not sufficient for those connected to collectors. Moreover, households do not honor their contracts with waste collectors and vice versa. The group mentioned that their children always play on refuse dumps; but this resulted in an explosion that amputated the legs of one of their kids. They think the authorities could give them sanitation police to give tickets to dirty home owners and those polluting their water. Law without enforcement is equally lawless, hence, the UFDB group thinks there must be a little force if people have to change their attitude towards sanitation.