Public conveniences are crucial infrastructure necessary for social well-being and practical operation of a functioning city. The provision of public toilets has implications for public and individual health. This project discusses the problems of public conveniences in Urban centres using Nsukka urban centre as a reference. Data was collected through the instrumentality of three sets of structured questionnaires. The questionnaires were administered on government agencies, operators and users of public conveniences in the study area. The simple random sampling technique was used to select 10% of public toilet operators and users in 28 public conveniences in the study area. Empirical analysis shows that over 83% of users rated the condition of public toilets in the study area as very poor; while more than 65% of respondents identified dirty environment and bad odour as the major challenges in using public toilets. Cleanliness ranked first among users’ reasons for preferring private toilets in public buildings to public toilets in the study area. About 80% of users identified water as a major cleansing agent in the toilets while over 70% of users are willing to pay just N40.0 which is about US $0.2 for using public toilets in Nsukka urban. This study recommends hygiene education among users and training of operators/cleaners in the arts of keeping clean and hygienic public toilets. Governments at local, state and federal levels are also required to work in partnership with the private sector and user communities to make the provision, operation and management of sanitation facilities sustainable.



Background of the study

Public conveniences should be seen as a core component of environmental design, adding to a city’s quality and viability (Greed, 2004). Provision of public convenience is not only a matter of land use, but also an essential design and planning concern to make cities more accessible, inclusive, and convenient for all members of the society. Public convenience provision often overlooks the needs and even the existence of women, children, disabled people, and the elderly. Ensuring public convenience provision is available to everyone can be considered essential to removing a serious barrier to wider participation in public life (Knight and Bichard, 2011). Moreover, evidence indicates that inclusively and well‑designed neighbourhood outdoor spaces positively contribute to people’s health and quality of life (Aspinall et al, 2010). Many people, such as the elderly and disabled, travel seldom, rarely go outside and avoid long journeys because of the lack of and/or inaccessible design of public convenience (Greed, 1996).

A public convenience is a room or small building containing one or more toilets and urinals which is available for use by the general public, or by customers or employees of certain businesses. Public conveniences are commonly separated into male and female facilities, although some can be unisex, particularly the smaller or single-occupancy types. Increasingly, public conveniences are accessible to people with disabilities.

Public convenience may be provided by the local authority or by a commercial business. They may be unattended or be staffed by a janitor or attendant(possibly with a separate room). In many cultures, it is customary to tip the attendant; pay toilets charge a small fee for entrance, sometimes by use of a coin-operated turnstile. Some venues such as nightclubs may feature a grooming service provided by an attendant in the room. Portable toilets are often provided at large outdoor events.

Public conveniences are typically found in schools, offices, factories, and other places of work; in museums, cinemas, bars, restaurants, and other places of entertainment; in railway stations, filling stations, and on long distance public transport vehicles such as trains and planes.