South Africa’s un-enclosed toilets unlawful
Why is South Africa still providing ‘apartheid toilets’?
How can a nation that builds five-star hotels and airports and hosted a successful World Cup still fail to provide decent sanitation?
David Smith, The Guardian, 17 May 2011
Sanitation as a human right
Sanitation and drinking water underpin all aspects of human and economic development. Yet some 2.6 billion people lack access to basic sanitation, of which 1.1 billion practice open defecation because they lack any facilities at all. If current trends continue, it is estimated that the MDG target related to sanitation will not be met globally until 2049. Investing in sustainable sanitation and drinking water improves health, reduces health care costs, boosts productivity and increases the return on investments in education. The economic benefits of achieving universal access to sanitation and drinking water are estimated at US $171 billion per year.
• Sanitation generally refers to the provision of facilities and services for the safe disposal of human urine and faeces. The word ‘sanitation’ also refers to the maintenance of hygienic conditions, through services such as garbage collection and wastewater disposal.
• Access to sanitation has been recognized by the UN as a human right, a basic service required to live a normal life.
• The second component of MDG Target 7.C is to halve the proportion of the population without sustainable access to basic sanitation. Current rates of progress towards this are insufficient. If current trends continue, this component of Target 7.C will not be met (World Health Statistics 2011, WHO)
• Most countries that are not on track to meet the MDG sanitation target are in Sub-Saharan Africa and in Southern Asia
• The United Nations estimates that 2.6 billion people, nearly 40% of the worlds population, still lack access to improved sanitation and around 1.2 billion practice open defecation. An estimated 1.6 million people, mostly children under the age of 5, die each year from water and sanitation related diseases.
• Cross-country studies show that the method of disposing of excreta is one of the strongest determinants of child survival: the transition from unimproved to improved sanitation reduces overall child mortality by about a third. Children under five are the most vulnerable to poor hygiene and inadequate sanitation, two of the major causes of diarrhoea. According to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the disease kills at least 1.2 million children under five each year.
• “Sanitation is a sensitive issue. It is an unpopular subject. Perhaps that is why the sanitation crisis has not been met with the kind of response we need,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said .
• He added that focusing on total hygiene does more than improve health. “It can also improve the safety of women and girls, who are often targeted when they are alone outdoors. And providing safe, private toilets may also help girls stay in school – which we know can increase their future earnings and help break the cycle of poverty.”