Poop Crisis As Lwengo’s Only Public Toilet Closed

Lwengo district is at risk of a major outbreak of poor sanitation related diseases following the closure of public toilet which has forced residents to defecate in the open.


A Pupil on People's Will Struggles to access a poorly constructed latrine in Lwengo
A Pupil on People’s Will Struggles to access a poorly constructed latrine in Lwengo

The only public toilet is located near Mbirizi central market in Lwengo town council.

Last month, Mbirizi Town Clerk, Janat Nabateregga ordered Bashir Talire, the town council Health Inspector, to close it over poor sanitation.

Janat Nabateregga, the Mbirizi town clerk, confirmed that she ordered its closure for fear of spread of more diseases.

She explained that although they had emptied it several times, this time it was not repairable.

Access to pit latrines remains a challenge in many communities in Uganda
Access to pit latrines remains a challenge in many communities in Uganda

It is believed that the toilet had started discharging human waste in the corridors and peoples shops around the market yet many people continued using it.

According to Nabateregga, they therefore decided to have it closed because it had become very old. The town council is now looking for funds to construct a new public toilet.

However, since its closure in July, the town council has been hit by sanitation crisis with residents defecating in corridors and open spaces.

Worse still, several restaurants selling food in the town council do not have latrines.

Our Reporter inspected at least seven small restaurants in the town council but they did not have latrines.

The only restaurant with a latrine is called Classis Hotel along Lwengo Rural Road although it is in a poor state.

Paul Mugisha, a medical officer who operates a clinic near in the town council, revealed with the onset of rainy season, over 10,000 people who live in Lwengo town council are at risk of catching poor sanitation related diseases like cholera and dysentery.

Pupils play around closed dirty latrine in Lwengo
Pupils play around closed dirty latrine in Lwengo

Mugisha, who claims to have carried out a survey, says as few as 100 people have at least a latrine. He however says majority of the people are now defecating in polythene bags and dumping their waste in the corridors.

Mugisha also said that children are at greater risk of suffering from Cholera and Dysentery because they play in the flood waters which are interlaced with human waste

Tushabe Nzabanita, a resident of Mbirizi faults the Town Council authorities for closing the public toilet without constructing an alternative one. He claims that although it is advisable for the town council to provide public utilities like toilets, the town council has not shown any interest in this.

Tushabe, who also heads a voluntary organization called Volunteer Uganda which campaigns for good sanitation in Lwengo district, says they fear a possible outbreak of a serious disease.

People’s Will Primary school in Mbirizi town is hit hard by toilet crisis. With a population of over 200 pupils, the school has two latrines.

Musa Kasozi, a primary three pupil, tells confirmed to us that he goes to toilet at least eight times. He even finds it hard to use the latrine at the school because it was poorly constructed.

Tushabe Bruce of Volunteer Uganda shows the closed public toilet in Lwengo
Tushabe Bruce of Volunteer Uganda shows the closed public toilet in Lwengo

Kasozi however said that he has to use the school latrine because at his home a few meters away from school, they do not have one.

Ibrahim Ssekabuuza, the Director of People’s Will Primary School, said that they are now considering shifting to another area because of the increasing population of pupils.

He said that this is because Lwengo town council is located in a lower land and it becomes hard to construct good latrines

According to the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS), pit latrine coverage in Uganda currently stands at 68 percent, an improvement from 63 percent in 2008.

But a World Bank report released in 2012 indicates that Uganda loses up to 390 billion shillings annually due to costs related to poor sanitation.

The report says at least 3.2 million Ugandans have no latrines, with many of them using open space to ease themselves. The Water and Sanitation Programme Report indicates that another 13.8 million Ugandans use unsanitary or share latrines.

According to the Report, Uganda loses 1.3 trillion shillings to poor sanitation every three years, which money is enough to build enough latrines in the country.

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