Urinals in Afghanistan

Mar 9, 2011   //   by Hameed   //   culture, photos  //  2 Comments

When con­struc­tion does hap­pen at Nan­garhar Uni­ver­si­ty, it usu­al­ly takes place in the sum­mer months when the stu­dents and fac­ul­ty are on vaca­tion and there is less inter­fer­ence with class­es and all that. Upon return­ing to cam­pus, there is a buzz of sur­prise among the stu­dents with each new building.

Veterinary Dept. NU

Vet­eri­nary Dept. Build­ing at Nan­ga­har University

This is the vet­eri­nary build­ing in Nan­garhar Uni­ver­si­ty. The funds for its con­struc­tion were pro­vid­ed by USAID and its blue­print fol­lowed a stan­dard mold for such a build­ing, designed in the west and prob­a­bly nev­er intend­ed for Afghanistan.

A local con­struc­tion com­pa­ny was hired and con­tract­ed to build accord­ing to the pro­vid­ed spec­i­fi­ca­tions. Since the design of the build­ing spec­i­fied uri­nals in the bath­rooms, the local con­struc­tion com­pa­ny built them.

The cleanest urinals in Afghanistan

As clean as all of the oth­er uri­nals in Afghanistan.

In Islam it is pro­hib­it­ed to uri­nate while stand­ing. Prophet Moham­mad “pbuh” always squat­ted when he uri­nat­ed and we do every­thing the same as he did.  The term for fol­low­ing his prac­tices and cus­toms is “Sun­nat”. So five years after the con­struc­tion of these uri­nals, they remain as clean as all the oth­er uri­nals I have seen in Afghanistan (and the only ones I’m aware of in Nan­garhar Province.)

A few years ago, a sim­i­lar con­struc­tion mishap occurred. Anoth­er for­eign com­pa­ny designed the dorms at NU and incor­po­rat­ed West­ern toi­lets. The stu­dents in the dorms soon destroyed all of the toi­lets because they hap­pened to be fac­ing Mecca.

Western style toilet facing the mecca

West­ern style toi­let fac­ing Mecca.

Accord­ing to Islam, even when seat­ed, you are not allowed to uri­nate in the direc­tion of Mecca.

The plumb­ing hole in the ground is all that remains from those toi­lets, and that is where we do our busi­ness. With a sym­met­ric round hole, it’s up to you which direc­tion to swivel.

In my opin­ion, to avoid such mis­un­der­stand­ings and oth­ers like these, for­eign­ers who work in Afghanistan could con­sult with their Afghan col­leagues in the process of imple­ment­ing any devel­op­ment projects, and give their con­trac­tors flex­i­bil­i­ty to push back on cul­tur­al issues.