Market Sanitation

What is market sanitation?

Market Sanitation according George (2008) is the hygienic means of promoting health through prevention of human contact with the hazards of wastes as well as the treatment and proper disposal of refuse and sewage wastewater in the market.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) Expert Committee on Sanitation (1999), concluded that “sanitation be it rural, urban or market, promotes life if effectively implemented.     If further state that market sanitation is the act or systematic monitoring of all the activities of our market environment in order to detect and abate nuisance that night be hazardous to health. It also involves the use of health education to enlighten the market users on health principles and hygiene, through regular workshops and the use of electronic media to ensure wholesomeness of the products vis-a-vis the health of the people.

Generally, sanitation is a weapon in the fight against diseases. It improves quality of human life, reduces death and increases life expectancy (WAHEB, 1991). The number of deaths resulting from food, illness and its related products in our various health institutions is on the upward trend. This can be attributed mainly to the sale and consumption of unwholesome products purchased from our markets. This calls for a serious and enduring effort to put the situation under control. This is why effective market sanitation is a necessity.

Processes of market sanitation

The processes of market sanitation are the various ways in ensuring sanitation in the market. These processes include;

  • Refuse (Solid Waste) Management
  • Sewage Disposal
  • Maintenance of Drains and Drainage System

Refuse (solid waste) management

World Health Organization Committee on Solid Waste (Refuse) Management 1971, defined solid waste (refuse) as useless, unwanted or discarded materials that arise from man’s activities and are not free flowing. Olojoba (2009). The committee added that “it includes deposited refuse particles, (even when temporarily suspended in air or water) heterogeneous mass of throw away activities as well as the more  homogeneous accumulation of  agricultural, industrial and mineral waste and that, which have monetary value when recycled”.

According to Unuraye (2009) “refuse whether domestic, industrial or commercial is known as substance produced in our day to day activities through the process of consumption, recreation, production etc. which are unwanted and no longer useful to its original owner”.

Open dumping of refuse (solid waste) is the most insanitary method of refuse disposal that creates public health hazards, nuisance and severe pollution of the environment. World health Organization Expert Committee on Sanitation (1999).

Solid wastes (refuse) are mostly generated in the market environment. They are the most problematic types of waste to manage. In market, whether rural or urban, refuse does not only become a source of public health nuisance, but also source of fire outbreak. It also constitutes problems of the flow of traffic near markets, especially where the management of the refuse is very poor. Refuse should be dispose off properly to keep the market clean. It is the duty of health authority to ensure that the market is in good condition and free from all forms of refuse. Ideal or sanitary refuse bins should be provided in all stalls for the storage of refuse. Temporary refuse dump site should be constructed at strategic area around the market for the temporary collection and disposal of refuse by the local government council.

The council should also provide refuse vans and labourers for quick and rapid evacuation of refuse. Competent refuse van drivers and labourers are required to boost performance.

The decision to use any form of final disposal method, should be guided by either the volume of refuse generated in the market, the land available, the nature of the soil in the town where the market is situated or the technology available for refuse disposal. If incineration is the best option for the area, incinerator should also be provided by the council. Combustible refuse should be burnt in the incinerator, while the incombustible materials can be buried or disposed off through sanitary landfill.

Sewage disposal

Stewart and Tim (2009) said the absence of latrine accommodation is responsible for indiscriminate defecation and its attendant problems of odour nuisance, fly infestation, handling of fresh faeces and contamination of underground water”. The latrine accommodation in market are inadequate for the population, hence the life span becomes so short and difficult to maintain which result to indiscriminate defecation. There should therefore be adequate latrine accommodation and urinals for males and females. The Federal Ministry of Environment made it abundantly clear in its Policy Guidelines on Market and abattoir Sanitation (2005) that in a market, there should be one unit of latrine accommodation to twenty-five persons, which should be functional and clean. In addition to that, there should be regular supply of portable source of water and the availability of one stand pipe per two hundred persons. Surely, if they are adhered to, there would be minimal problems of public health in our markets. The latrine accommodation provided should meet with the Federal Ministry of Environment guidelines which calls for effective maintenance, that there should be no leakage and backflow soil pipes. Overfilled or cracked septic tanks and soak away pits leading to spillage of sewage and that the source of water supply should not be far from the latrines.

Maintenance of drains and drainage system

As a result of the very important of effective drain and drainage system, especially in market environment, the Federal Ministry of Environment in Her Policy Guidelines on Market and Abattoir (2005), stated that there should be provision and maintenance of drains to keep them functional, for the reduction of communicable diseases. It states that, “adequate sanitary facilities to ensure sound sanitation of market and abattoirs should be provided.” It went further that, “as much as possible, infrastructure and services to markets and abattoirs be made self sustaining to prevent blockage of drains, stagnant water, receptacle capable of serving as breeding ground for mosquitoes and other disease vectors and also as potential sources of contamination.

Importance of market sanitation

  1. To ensure that goods are sold under sanitary condition.
  2. Avoid contamination of food items through infestation of flies.
  3. It helps in keeping hygiene condition and keep harmful pathogen away.

Causes of poor market sanitation

Poor market sanitation can be traced to the following factors

  1. Indiscriminate disposal of refuse in the market.
  2. Flooding due to poor drainage system.
  3. Poor attitude of officials responsible for refuse disposal in the market.
  4. Problem of open dumping of refuse which leads to pollution of the market environment.
  5. Lack of proper enforcement of Environmental Laws guiding refuse disposal in the market.
  6. Overcrowding in the market due to population explosion and its consequent overstretching of sanitary facilities provided in the market.


Federal Ministry of Environment, (2005): Policy Guidelines on Market and Abattoir Sanitation. Abuja.

George, R. (2008). The Big Necessity: The Unmentionable Worlds of Market Sanitation and Why it Matters. New York: Metropolitan Books/Henrey Holt and Company.

Olojoba, A. O. (2009): Millennium Technology in Waste management and Environmental Pollution Mitigation. Ughelli: Ama-Ohoror Printing press Coy.

Stewart, A. & Tim, G.(2009) Governance of Proper Waste Management and Market Sanitation In Africa : Achieving Sustainable Development Through Partnerships. n.p.: I.B. Tauris, 2009. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost).

Unuraye, L. O. (2009): Industrial Sanitation and Refuse Disposal. Ughelli, Ama Ohoror Press Coy.

West African Health Examination Board, (1991): Water and Building Sanitation. (1st ed.) Lagos: West African Health Examination Board.

World Health Organization, (1999): Expert Committee on Sanitation Technical Report on Improving Rural and Urban Sanitation. WHO: Geneva, Switzerland.

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