The African Building Platform


EiABC Toilet Experience ፤ Uncensored

Menetsir ፤ መነፅር
Medhanit Tadesse | Ahmedteyib Abdulkadir | Hilina Asnake Adamu
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We are students of EiABC, [Ethiopian Institute of Architecture, Building Construction & City Development.]
We care about our campus. We believe it can get better. Thus, we act.

Toilet Experience is a project initiated by students, free of any funding from any organization, out of a genuine concern for their campus and the challenges they face in accessing a safe, comfortable, and lively educational environment. University is a sacred place; it’s a place of knowledge, experience, and, exchange; moreover, we believe it is a place where we, the youth, come to learn to be responsible citizens – who care – about themselves and those around them.

So, we claim, again and again, that we care. Anyone who sets foot on our campus would learn within hours the sad reality of the critical shortage of fully functional, inviting sanitary facilities provided for students and staff members. For those who have to visit the campus daily to meet their educational and career duties, EiABC places a serious challenge on their way by limiting their basic human needs – the Toilet.

We conducted a survey in November of 2021, with the aim of learning the factual and quantitative data on toilets in EiABC. According to our findings, we were able to record datasets of more than 90 toilet seats well spread out across the compound. However, though the sheer number of available toilet seats is commendable, it was disheartening to learn many were locked, out of use, and physically inaccessible for individuals with disabilities. Of those toilets in service, we learned users, mainly students, were adapting themselves accordingly to make use of the barely functional toilets. Toilets with no door handle, locks, mirror, soap, and worse enough with no flushing water and bum washer are the norms in the compound.

EiABC, being the center for upcoming architects, urban planners, and construction managers, the condition of its toilets poses a question of institutional integrity – which we hope to address positively by initiating a project for the betterment of sanitary facilities in the compound, once and for all. Hereby, we provide our first step by sharing the experience of toilets in EiABC, trying to reach as many inspired individuals/organizations who can lend a hand to make it a reality.

We care how you perceive our message. We don’t want to bore you with a dry, complaining list of the challenges we face on campus in finding fully functional toilets. Rather, we have packed stories of experience which are captivating enough to bring you right to our campus, in our shoes.

ጓ…ጓ…ገጭ…ሄድ መለስ
‘ሰው አለ እንዴ?’ ፣
‘ቆይ ቆይ’ ፣
‘ቅደሚ’ ፣ ‘እሺ ‘…
አስታራቂ መንገድ ሀረር ካለ ፤
አስታራቂ ሽንት ቤት እኛ ግቢ ነው መቼስ
The drama of the Narrow Toilet Corridor
Soon after you become a regular at the EiABC toilets – or at least some of them – you learn how to negotiate opening the doors without clashing with your neighbor’s door. Though not much of a problem this is compared to other difficulties one faces in the toilet, we chose to document it because it shows the limited attention given to sanitary spaces in the compound.
This situation is recorded in dormitory block toilets which were built way back (decades-old buildings).


ሁለት ሆኖ አንድ የሆነ ሽንት ቤት?
…ኧርባን ህንፃ የሴቶች ሽንት ቤት

The unfortunate case of Urban Block Women’s Toilet One of the cleanest toilets for female students in EiABC is the one located at the sub-basement of the Urban planning Building. This toilet has two toilet seats and only one common door used for both. ‘What?’ – you might think. Let us explain. As you see in the illustration to the left, the plan of the toilet showcases that the toilet seats do not have their own doors. Thus, when one wants to use the toilet, (obviously one of the toilets – ሁለት እግር አለኝ ብለው ሁለት ዛፍ አይወጡ ነገር) they have no choice but to close the gate to the whole toilet area and ban the use of the spare toilet seat.

Invisible Scene ፤ of the studio

Bottles of urine are left at the corners of the studio rooms where the design courses are conducted. Who left it? Sure it’s a man ~ or so a boy ~ who peed when no one else was around. Urine, packed in a bottle, right by the side of the wall, where the future Architects are born?

‘Young boy, young boy, the Toilet is too far for you to reach,
Stairs too many to hold onto that pee, You grab a bottle to live it off, to loosen up, YOLO is the game, & the classroom is just another space, Who cares? Oh right, who does?
Tomorrow is another day, For those who deny their eyes, Come to play ባላየ with your bottle of urine.


ባላየ ፡ (ትርጉም) ፡ አይቶ እንዳላየ ማለፍ፣ ከመሳቀቅ የተነሳ መሸሽ፣ ያዩትን እውነታ እንደመካድ

Both the teachers and the students using the design studios daily conduct the courses as if those bottles of urine are nonexistent. Of course, who on earth, especially those “teachers”, would like to face the fact that the room they teach in is indeed at times a toilet? (ኤ…ጭ ማለት አሁን ነው!)

ተማሪ ክፍሉ ከሸና፣ እንዴት ከተማ ጎዳና ላይ መሽናት ይከብደዋል? የከተማ ፕላነር እና አርክቴክቶችን የሚያፈራ ተቋም የሽንት ቤት እጥረትን የት/ቤት ግቢው ውስጥ ለመፍታት ከተሳነው፤ ከተማዋ እንዴት ትፈታዎለች?

There is no functional* toilet at the major educational block, casually known as the White House building where numerous lectures are held. Students, particularly on the 3rd floor, need to step down the stairs ~ a very tiresome experience ~ and walk towards other facilities in the compound ~ just to pee & then ~ get back the whole way+stairs, to carry on with their business. And imagine doing this in the dead of the night with the anticipation of deadlines looming over your shoulders. (ኡፍፍፍፍ…)

አንድ ነው ሁለት ሽንት ቤት?
(ግነት ዘግቤ ጠቀሜታ ላይ ውሏል)

Of those functional* toilets in EiABC, many exhibit multiple defects such as the absence of door handles, no door lock, no flushing water, no bum washer, and many more. stories of the ~ Shorter Partitions Shorter partition walls separating the toilet seats create awkward situations among users and drastically decrease the comfort of the restroom. Once in a while users are confronted with a familiar shoe – dying to recall who it could be, stained by the splashing water from their neighbor, attend awkward moanings of constipation…and experience many more surely untold stories. You – the user, probably a student – choose your breaking point for the day to claim heroically – ‘Nope, Not Today! ፤ ያ….ዝ ላርጋት የዛሬን!’

አንድ ነው ሁለት ሽንት ቤት?
(ግነት ዘግቤ ጠቀሜታ ላይ ውሏል)

Anything can happen in toilets with no locks and/or door handles.

Thus, it is the innate responsibility of the user to always be on their toes to act immediately and save themselves from the embarrassment of publicly showcasing their privates ~ butt naked!

The ‘bliss’ of the unlocked toilet: – one peep at the unclosed door // the fear of someone sneaking, one could open the door abruptly unaware that there is you uncovered…, you lose the grip of the tip of the door as you are in the middle of your business… and you are all open to business for those around; laughter breaks out! and the worst of all, the door handle pulls out & yep…you are flying back, again uncovered & vulnerable…way down we go…Ohh ..ohh

At the time this survey was conducted on EiABC toilets, in November 2021, most of the toilets, particularly those in dormitory areas, were hard to keep close on their own let alone lock them from inside. Students, significantly women, were seen holding the toilet doors for their friends in time of use.

Accessibility of Toilets in EiABC

Disclaimer: The illustrations you see below are abstractions of the stairs one needs to climb to get to a toilet seat. Thus, please bear in mind that distance and height aren’t in scale. Only the number of stairs is accurate/factual.

How high is the toilet seat from the entry-level of the compound?

Besides the lack of adequate functional toilet facilities in EiABC, accessibility of those that are functional is also a challenge. Most of the toilets are located behind a handful of stairs which makes them hardly accessible to anyone with mobility-related disabilities. This creates frustration not only among users with disabilities but also with abled ones as it’s no one’s liking to run through stairs every time his/her privates call upon it.

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© May, 2024 Ketema Journal

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