Health crisis looms over lack of toilet facility at Pelungu market

“We are suffering. We don’t have toilet facility in the market. Normally, when we want to attend to nature’s call, we go far way from the market and that is not good for us. We leave our things and go and that is not right.”
The Pelungu market – one of the busiest and a cash cow for the Nabdam District in the Upper East Region – cannot boast of a single toilet facility posing a major health risk to people.

The development has left patrons of the market to defecate indiscriminately in the open, eroding gains made in the fight against poor sanitation.

The problem is not only fast shoving Pelungu into an environmental health crisis, but also exposes the nakedness of their women who are left with no option aside to pass bowels in the open.

The Nabdam District Assembly constructed a toilet facility near the market five years ago but it is yet to be commissioned.

The public toilet facility constructed by the District Assembly which is yet to be opened for use.
The public toilet facility constructed by the District Assembly which is yet to be opened for use | Photo: Senyalah Castro
Modesta Pangat, one of the many women who sell at the market, says the lack of a toilet facility in the market affects their business operations as they sometimes have to leave their wares unattended to find places in the outskirts to pass bowels.

She said there are instances when one would return from nature’s call and find that some of the wares are missing.

Modesta Pangat, a woman who sells at the Pelungu market.
Modesta Pangat, a woman who sells at the Pelungu market | Photo: Senyalah Castro
“We are suffering. We don’t have toilet facility in the market. Normally, when we want to attend to nature’s call, we go far way from the market and that is not good for us. We leave our things and go and that is not right,” she told Asaase News.

“As women, going into the bushes to defecate is dangerous to us. We can be attacked or hurt by animals,” another trader said.

The chief’s intervention
In 2018, two years after Naab Seirig Soore Sobil IV was enskinned as Pelungu chief, he initiated steps to address the problem in the market by leading in the construction of a 20-seater public toilet facility.

The 20-seater public toilet facility being constructed by the Chief and people of Pelungu.
The 20-seater public toilet facility being constructed by the chief and people of Pelungu | Photo: Senyalah Castro
He started the project in the same year with funds raised from the maiden edition of the Yagle Kuure Festival -another initiative of his.

After three years of successive celebrations of the Yagle Kuure Festival, the chief and people of Pelungu have recorded an impressive progress with the project.

Speaking at this year’s celebration of the festival, Naba Seirig Soore Sobil IV, said: ”When we celebrated the very first annual Yagle Kuure Festival in the year 2018, we decided to use the occasion to try and raise funds to start the construction of 20-seater public toilet for the Pelungu market.”

He added: “This was because when I became chief of this community, the sanitation situation in Pelungu became a deep source of worry for me. I realised that poor sanitation, especially in our market, did not present a good image of our community to strangers.

The Chief of Pelungu, Naab Seirig Soore Sobil IV.
The chief of Pelungu, Naab Seirig Soore Sobil IV | Photo: Senyalah Castro
“Also, our women were exposed anytime they needed to attend to nature’s call, while they were doing their business activities in our market.

“Therefore, together with my elders, we agreed it will be prudent to mobilise our own resources through the festival, to begin constructing a toilet facility. And this was what we did with the first annual Yagle Kuure Festival.”

The Pelungu Naab revealed that the project was currently at the lintel level. He said it was his hope that the community shall be able to complete and commission the project before or during the 5th anniversary of the festival.

While he called for peace and unity among his subjects – two values he reiterated were ingredients for the development and progression of Pelungu – Naba Soore Sobil IV mentioned that funding to complete the 20-seater public toilet project was a huge challenge.

He said while the community was hoping to undertake other crucial projects in the future, it was important for the people to commit themselves and contribute generously towards the completion of the toilet project.

He further appealed to the government, benevolent individuals and entities, and non-governmental organisations to support Pelungu in its drive to accelerate development.

The MP for Nabdam, Dr Kurt Nawaane who joined the celebration re-echoed the need for peace and unity in Pelungu.

He urged the people of Pelungu to work in unison to be able to overcome all the developmental challenges the area is faced with.

“We should begin to think about what we will do to accelerate development here. Nobody will come from anywhere to develop Nabdam for us. It is we ourselves who must work in unity and cooperation,” Dr Nawaane said.

Senyalah Castro

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