On World Toilet Day, Take Concrete Action to Achieve Sanitation For All

On World Toilet Day, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) calls on all stakeholders in Zimbabwe to take concrete action to effectively deal with the sanitation crisis that has led to repeated outbreaks of waterborne diseases and unnecessary loss of lives.

19 November each year, has been set as ‘World Toilet Day’ by the United Nations to inspire action to tackle the global sanitation crisis.

In 2018, ‘World Toilet Day’ is being commemorated under the theme “When nature calls” which aptly focuses on nature-based sanitation solutions.

It has been observed that where there is lack of adequate sanitation, human waste often finds its way returning to the environment untreated, eventually polluting water sources and negatively affecting human health.

While ‘World Toilet Day’ exists to inspire people to take action towards achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 which aims to achieve sanitation for all, it is unsettling that Zimbabwe is contributing to the estimated 4.5 billion people who are living without safely managed sanitation. It is very sad that 38 years after independence, Zimbabwe is not on track to reach SDG 6.

Access to a safe functioning toilet has a positive impact on public health, human dignity and personal safety for everyone.

Of concern is the pervasive practice of open-air defecation, which is extremely harmful to public health. The failure by local authorities to manage sanitation systems is a cause for concern. Over the years, this failure by local authorities and central government to allocate adequate resources has led to unnecessary loss of lives due to cholera and typhoid outbreaks. Cholera and typhoid are preventable diseases that can only be eradicated when sanitation is properly managed.

In Zimbabwe, lack of functional, adequate sewage reticulation and lack of access to potable water continue to cause outbreak of waterborne diseases. Government must understand that the unnecessary death of people due to poor health and quality of life undermines efforts to develop sustainable communities.

ZLHR reminds all those living in Zimbabwe to play their part and ensure the enjoyment of the right to a clean environment as provided in section 73 of the Constitution and the right to safe, clean and potable water provided in section 77 of the Constitution. These rights can only be realised when everyone plays their part and prevents the contamination of the environment by human waste.

Therefore, when “nature calls”, ZLHR calls on;

  • Central government to allocate adequate resources and work with local authorities to take action to ensure that everyone has a safe toilet by 2030;
  • Local and central government must provide clean running water and sanitary environs to prevent the spread of deadly diseases and to rapidly improve the sustainability of our communities through providing nature-based sanitation solutions;
  • Government to allocate more resources and increase the budget allocation on water, sanitation and hygiene thereby contributing to achieving the 15% allocation to health as provided in the Abuja declaration;
  • Members of parliament to wisely invest financial resources allocated under the Constituency Development Fund and prioritise sanitation in their constituencies;
  • Ratepayers to pay their bills and make local authorities and central government accountable for service delivery;
  • Local authorities to 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

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