On social distancing, the World Health Organization recommends people keep a distance of 1 metre. The chronicles of compound house and communal living amongst Ghanaian got me thinking. Yeah, we all know “Social Distancing” would prevent the transmission of the infection from one person to another. However, there is more to this than just a basic knowledge of it.
Compound Housings with Shared Toilet/Bath Facilities
The compound house idea is not new to Ghanaians and Africans for that matter. In typical compound houses, tenants share basic facilities such as washrooms, kitchen and electricity meter. I must say the situation differs from the location, and income status of the tenant(s).
It’s very troubling to know that these shared amenities in most houses goes against a lot of hygiene protocols; you may find close to 25 people share the same basic facilities. As is the practice for tenants, each room occupant is expected to keep their shared utility clean in a bid to avoid the transmission of contagious and infectious diseases.
Related: Covid-19: A Call From A Village Boy
As communal as we can be, borrowing is not news. In the compound house, the pressures of life will force you to borrow or be borrowed from. It’s normal vibe for TT to knock on your door begging for your TV remote to ‘on’ his. I don’t want to even go into how people can borrow simple and inexpensive things like salt, match stick, charcoal, coal pots, etc. With coronavirus in full swing, borrowing has become extra awkward. The borrower is scared of the hands (lender) from whom he or she is seeking help; the lender is scared of the borrower coming for his or her property and adding an infection. People just have to enjoy their poverty and peace of mind in their room.
With Coronavirus lurking in corners around everywhere, I’m wondering how tenents are coping. Anyways, what do I know!
Meet Mr and Mrs Koohia. They live in a single room-selfless contained apartment with the 6 kids and 3 other relatives. Before COVID-19 was a known word, his family was already struggling; what to eat or where to sleep was a daily headache for the breadwinner. With Coronavirus looking us in the face, I don’t envy his role as man of the house. But do you think Mr Koohia will care much about social distancing protocols in the small room when he hasn’t sorted out basic necessities of life?
I know of Ataa Oko, a night supervisor at Ohiabeyeya Pharmacy, who rented a chamber and hall apartment with two of his church colleagues. Because their work schedules differ, living together worked perfectly. While Oko’s friends are slaving away at work in the day, he will be relaxing at home; the reverse is also true for his friends. But with Covid-19 pranking us to stay home, the three friends are stranded in the house. Total discomfort all over the place.
The risk of spreading the infection amongst members of this room is far higher than anything else; especially, when these roommates would huddle together to eat and share a recreative sport of a kind to while away the time.
Many Ghanaians are going against the principle of social distancing as proposed by the WHO and the Ghana Health Service. But what can be done in such situations than sit and wait whiles watching things to develop and become worse? Truth be told, social distancing perhaps is a comfort developing country cannot afford to have.
There is not much we can do about the situation when it comes to compound houses; increasing awareness of preventive measures in such homes and changing their routines to allow all members of the house to use these facilities without any harm. We are still a far distance away from containing the spread of the virus and creating more awareness with the situation remaining unresolved.
God is our helper and our safety now lies in our own hands