On World Toilet Day, Accelerate Implementation Of Measures To Ensure Sustainable Sanitation

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) joins the rest of the world in commemorating United Nations (UN) World Toilet Day and implores local and central government to accelerate implementation of measures to ensure sustainable sanitation and that everyone has access to a clean and safe toilet by 2030.

The aspiration to have safe toilets and achieve sanitation for all is contained in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6, which is pivotal to helping break taboos around toilets and making sanitation for all a global development priority.

World Toilet Day, which is a UN designated day is commemorated each year on 19 November to inspire action to tackle the global sanitation crisis and raise awareness of the 4.2 billion people living without access to safely managed sanitation.

Through a resolution which was adopted in July 2013 declaring World Toilet Day, the UN seeks to encourage member states and other stakeholders to encourage behavioural change and the implementation of policies to increase access to sanitation among people, along with a call to end the practice of open-air defecation, which is harmful to public health.

Commemorated under the theme “Sustainable Sanitation and Climate Change”, World Toilet Day reminds us that sustainable sanitation, clean water and hand washing facilities help in protecting and maintaining our health and stop the spread of deadly infectious diseases and viruses such as Coronavirus and other waterborne diseases.

This year’s theme for World Toilet Day implores us to focus on sustainable sanitation and climate change and with the new threat posed to sanitation by climate change, everyone must commit to provision of toilets that effectively captures human waste in a safe, accessible and dignified setting.

In Zimbabwe, recent revelations contained in a report entitled “Management of Sewage Systems by the Urban Local Authorities under the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing” published by the Auditor-General’s Office are unsettling. The forthright report revealed that the majority of people living in Zimbabwe’s main urban suburbs were exposed to drinking sewage-contaminated water due to poor sanitation management systems provided by local authorities.

The Auditor-General’s assessment reflects the adverse health effects caused by poor sanitation and water supply.

ZLHR is worried by the perennial failure of local authorities and central government to manage sanitation systems in the country and to allocate adequate financial resources, which sadly has led to unnecessary loss of lives due to the outbreak of some waterborne diseases such as cholera, typhoid and diarrhoea, which are preventable diseases that can only be eradicated when sanitation is properly managed.

It is saddening to note that these violations are taking place at a time when enjoyment of the right to a clean environment is now explicitly guaranteed in section 73 of the Constitution and in section 77 of the Constitution which provides for the right to safe, clean and potable water.

With livelihoods at stake due to the serious consequence of the coronavirus pandemic, ZLHR urges local and central government to ensure the realisation of the human right to sanitation through:

  • Ensuring that everyone has access to a safe toilet and sustainable sanitation that can withstand climate change and keep communities healthy and functioning;
  • Adequate allocation of resources by local authorities and central government to provide clean running water and sanitary environs to curb the spread of deadly diseases;
  • Local authorities fully account for all the funds charged to ratepayers for water and sewerage in order to progressively contribute towards the realisation of the right to a clean environment, health care and safe, clean and potable water.

Source: Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)