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Unhygienic Toilets At Gombe University Pose Discomfort for Students

Students in Block G of the female hostel in the Federal University Kashere (FUK), Gombe state, shut their windows despite the scorching weather. The air is suffused with the pungent smell of faeces bundled in black nylon bags behind their windows.

Theresa Musa, a 400-level student is a victim of an intestinal infection after using the hostel toilets. Theresa and other occupants of the FUK hostel told Campus Reporter about their gory experiences using different toilets in the university.  We spoke to many of the students, who pleaded to be anonymous for privacy reasons, and revealed that they engage in open defecation as an alternative to avoid the foul toilets. 

“I  remember last semester, I missed my period for some time. When I went to the doctor, he said it was an infection. And as you can now see my skin is covered with rashes. The doctor said it might be a reaction from the water because the water tank is not regularly cleaned,” Theresa said.  “After treating a severe case of Intestinal infection last semester, I decided to use a potty or black nylon.”

Messy toilets are a crisis that echoes in the hearts of students in FUK  and many other public institutions across Nigeria. Complaints of clogged toilets, lack of water, and inadequate restrooms are prevalent and so far disrupt learning activities, plunging students into health issues, increasing psychological distress and many other challenges.

A 2021 report by the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR) shows how many undergraduates struggle using the messy toilets in  Ahmadu Bello University Zaria (ABU), Usman Danfodio University Sokoto (UDUS), Bayero University Kano (BUK), Federal University Dutsinma Katsina (FUDMA) and so on.

Stephanie Wosen, a 400-level student at FUK, lamented to Campus Reporter that she suffered from infection as a result of using the toilets in her hostels. “ I became so sick that I could hardly use my computer,” she said with her face creasing into an aggrieved expression.

 “We have to go downstairs from upstairs to get water just to use the toilet. No matter how urgent. There’s no water in the toilet and that contributes to 78% of our problems.”


This problem of bad toilets extends beyond the wall of the student to the school environment. Students can hardly access the 16 toilets spread across the school due to their filthy settings, while others remain locked. For instance, Lt 4 and 5, a twin-like lecture room that accommodates over 500 students has no toilet in its building, entirely.  While the public restroom is about a kilometre away. The students complained that this situation has caused them inconveniences and disrupted their learning progress during lectures and exams.

“It’s disturbing that the toilets in our lecture rooms are not active. The moment I feel pressured, that’s the end of my lectures. For I’ll have to travel a long way back to my residence and going back is not even an option.” said Umar Farouk, a 200-level student.

Mohammed Yusuf, the Director of Health at FUK, expressed his concerns regarding the poor state of toilets in the student hostels. He is worried that it is unhealthy to groom future leaders in such disturbing situations.

Yusuf suggested unhygienic toilets and open defecations are the reason for the increasing number of typhoid patients and other diseases in the school clinic.  “When faeces are not cleaned, insects visit them and travel diseases from there on to our foods,” he warned.

He added that students can’t be blamed entirely for the problems. The health director advised students to adopt cautious and hygienic habits like washing hands after using the toilets to protect themselves while they await a response from the school authority.

Abdulmuminu Yusuf, the Environmental Officer in charge of sanitation at the university, lamented that his committee is struggling to do its work due to the inadequate supply of water across the campus. 

“When we talk about sanitation, it’s an activity that demands a substantial supply of water. Secondly, we’ve about 17,000 students and we can only accommodate less than 4,000. There are too many students in the hostel but there’s no water supply. That’s where the problem arises,” he said.

To have a better understanding of the reason behind poor toilet facilities and the shortage of active restrooms around the school premises, Campus Reporter interviewed the Director of Works of the University, Abubakar Dikko at his office.

The director claimed that there are toilets in the lecture rooms but most were closed because of poor usage by students. “The students usually mess up the lecture rooms toilets hence we had to close them,” he said.

He also said that his office provides adequate water in the hostels to ensure suitable maintenance. “Whenever you go to the toilets, you’ll find water there. We have solar boreholes in the hostel to supply water for the students in the daytime and we use generators at night.”

This story was funded by the Campus Reporter project of the Centre for Journalism Innovation and Development (CJID) and written by seven students of the Federal University of Kashere after Campus Reporter’s 41st campus journalism clinic held in their institution.:

Abdullahi Salihu Sidi
Kamal Shareefudeen Muhammad
Selbyen Rejoice Rahman
Abigail Kami
Rahab Yusuf Adamu
Yasin Maula Idrees
Muhammad Musa Muhammad

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