Deplorable sanitary condition of towns in Benue

By Jovitta Iorshase

Man and environment are inseparable. This is obviously because each was made for the other and their importance cannot be over stressed since existence their would be over without either of them.

Man and environment need absolute care for a better ecological system or co-existence. However, the sanitary conditions of most towns in Benue State and its capital (Makurdi) is rather discouraging.

A tour to some of the major towns in the state like, Adikpo, Vandeikya, Gboko, Ugbema, Abintse among others shows a great struggle between these two components of nature, especially in the aspects of infrastructural planning, market layout, sitting of filling stations, rural migration among others, which has degenerated to a growing increase in waste that is almost impossible to manage.

It is observed that most of these towns visited recently suffer from environmental neglect which is knowingly or unknowingly manifesting in different aspects such as drought, perennial flooding, global warming, extinction of animals that should have kept the ecosystem in balance.

A lot of Benue indigenes were displaced from their homes during the previous rainy season with lots of properties destroyed due to man-made activities largely with just a little of natural factors. The shortage in rainfall experienced during the last farming season which has led to poor yields and harvest, is a clear indication that there are negative climate changes that should be controlled with immediate effect.

Apart from the food insecurity that this situation poses, the future also looks bleak. The increase in diseases and viruses has caused serious setback on the economy and general progress of the state. The current outbreak of cholera in Agatu, Abinsi and North Bank, Makurdi that is claiming lives, leaving great deal of people hospitalized has become a recurrent phenomenon that ordinarily should not be a state health emergency if the standards for personal hygiene and sanitation were duly observed.

Cholera is simply a water borne disease that comes with the intake of contaminated or dirty water, fruits or unhygienic food among others, and a filthy environment with the likes. With the outbreak of cholera, the state government faces another challenge of utilizing its meagre resources already overstretched on fighting other health emergencies like COVID-19 and lassa fever which have impacted negatively on the health sector.
Although, the government has invested resources to control the menace of waste, Makurdi as a state capital still habours enough waste as gutters are filled with waste and refuse heaps along the highways, giving the city a shabby look. This no doubt, has contributed immensely to the health and environmental hazards that continues endanger plants, animals and humans.

Both the activities of government and organized private sector are responsible for the continuous environmental degradation. Also, individual attitude to waste management is a key factor. The appalling indiscipline and recklessness in the handling of waste has grave consequences on the entire environment in the long run. This negative effects we experience back on in outbreaks of different kinds of diseases that claim lives. Besides,the state government’s failure to provide infrastructure in the rural areas has been complicated by its inability to systematically manage and control the influx of these people to the urban communities, where the inadequate infrasturcture is overstretched to meet up with standard sanitation requirements.

It is unfortunate that the Benue State Environmental Sanitation Authority (BENSESA) which is meant to serve the whole state, can barely cover Makurdi, the state capital. The same issues of open defecation, proper dumping sites, periodic environmental fumigation among others are still begging for urgent attention.

Our environment can only be improved if waste control is monetized with private organizations coming in to compliment the efforts of BENSESA, Urban Development Board, among others. The scope of service should be extended to the major towns in all the local governments.

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