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Using Streets as Toilets, Ivory Coast Faces Hygiene Crisis

The lack of public toilets is turning Abidjan, a vibrant city in Ivory Coast, a shade of yellow. Urinating anywhere and everywhere is common practice for many men in this city.

Women of Abidjan don't seem to have the same problem. One female resident told BBC that you don't see women relieving themselves in public because they think about the lack of facilities before they leave the home.

But, the unfortunate reality is that not all residents have the luxury of a suitable toilet in their homes — six out of 10 people living in Africa do not have such access. As you can imagine, public urination not only causes shock and smell — it also is a serious health problem. To see why,


Human feces lead to diarrhea, which is not just an embarrassing and temporary affliction. Diarrhea is the second leading cause of death among children in the developing world. Concerned citizens are doing what they can to keep their loved ones healthy, posting home-made signs such as "You piss; we'll hit you."

If it's really a matter of toilet access, why aren't as many women answering nature's call in public? Are men just being inconsiderate, or are they left with no choice? Should authorities crack down hard on offenders, or work towards public education, while increasing the number of facilities?


Join The Conversation
i-am-awesomeness i-am-awesomeness 9 years
Once again, women prove superior :) haha. But jokes aside, they do need to make more facilities to deal with this sort of problem. That and a bit of education, because talking and talking about hygiene is just going to sound like yadda yadda yadda after a while and they'll just stop listening.
milosmommy milosmommy 9 years
Kris the thing about the cats, would that work for adult cats too?? We have neighbor cats who relieve themselves in our vegetable garden and then dig. If that would keep them out of there I'll send my husband out there to water the tomatoes tonight. lol. Oh and it's just a fact men love to pee outside. My husband like to go in the back yard whenever he can (at nite when no one else is around) no matter how much I ask him not to.
serial serial 9 years
You mean this is news? Using streets and sidewalks as toilets is common practice in San Francisco too, among both men and women. Just take a walk along the streets of the Tenderloin, mid-Market, some parts of the Mission and even the Financial District. The stories I could tell...
janneth janneth 9 years
Men are the ones who do this. There are no consequences. The fact that women plan ahead shows that men just don't care.
stephley stephley 9 years
It's generally taboo for a woman in the U.S. to drop trou and pee in public too, which is why most of us (Thank you Cine) referred to men doing it.
LibertySugar LibertySugar 9 years
Hey dollyd. Thanks for adding more depth to everyone's understanding of the situation.
hypnoticmix hypnoticmix 9 years
Hey there's a shortage of public restrooms in this country too. If restrooms are for customers only, they're locking up park restrooms, and do not have strategically placed public pay restrooms what is a person supposed to do? You know if you think about it a bowel movement is an act of God too and just like a hurricane there is nothing you can do to stop it. The only major city that I've been in where there are public pay toilets is San Francisco, but even still there aren't enough of them. This is a problem that needs to be addressed here and there. You can't ask people to put their health at risk for the sake of fung shue in the public square.
dollyd dollyd 9 years
This post has such a western perspective. I lived in Senegal for 6 months and there aren't many public bathrooms in Dakar either. And no TP either. I think the main reason that women don't "have the same problem" is not because they are better prepared and make sure to go before they leave, but rather because for a woman to squat down and pee in public would be much more taboo because of gender roles. Yes, it is a public health problem. But there are a lot of public health problems that are overwhelming cities in Africa that have poor infrastructures and are experiencing greater population growth than they can handle. I don't know why, but these types of stories really bother me. They just come off as so paternalistic. *sigh*
harmonyfrance harmonyfrance 9 years
KrisSugar KrisSugar 9 years
well i almost wet my pants when I read your comment, Rac. So thanks for the good advice!
raciccarone raciccarone 9 years
Kris, I don't stop there! I regularly douse all my personal belongings in my own liquid waste ensuring that all creatures stay away from my personage. Including people. It has changed my life.
KrisSugar KrisSugar 9 years
That's crazy Rac! I used to live in an apartment where feral kittens were crapping on my doormat. every day. kitten diarrhea on the doormat. my friend told me to put a little of my own pee my doormat, and what do you know. it worked! The kittens vamoosed. It wasn't gross or stinky either. So, lesson: if any of you are plagued by reckless $hitting kittens, pee on your territory and they'll get the hint.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 9 years
evolve people for godsakes.
raciccarone raciccarone 9 years
Public urination is a man's right. It dates back to the Hannurabian code as early as the 6th century b.c. Basically it is a way for men to "mark" their territory. Even today, in certain congressional districts when a new congressperson is elected, they are asked to urinate on the bounds of their district. Nowadays it's done more as a ceremony. Nancy Pelosi, for instance, took a cup of her own urine and sprinkled it on four places marking her "territory" as a sort of rite of welcome, whereas when Dick Cheney was elected he passed water on every inch of his district border garnering him the nickname Dick "Bladder Blaster" Cheney. Seriously. It's a fact. Look it up if you don't believe me. Seriously. :bored:
bluesarahlou bluesarahlou 9 years
Wait, are they crapping in public or just peeing in public? Crapping in public is the health threat here...not necessarily the peeing. Peeing in public is nothing new...and like Cine and Stephley do it cause they can.
stephley stephley 9 years
To be honest, when I got to the part about men urinating anywhere I thought 'what's new?' I saw it in Europe when we were posted there when I was a kid and I've been surprised a couple of times as an adult by male co-workers or aquaintances who stepped around a corner or into an alley to relieve themselves. If women can wait until they get to a restroom, there's no way men can claim they have no choice-and they don't need more or bigger restrooms, women do.
cine_lover cine_lover 9 years
"You piss; we'll hit you." :rotfl: I think men piss in public because they can. That is why they do it here in the states as well. Although on Haight I once saw a girl relieve herself on the side walk, and she was laughing the whole time. She was all class.
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