Today an estimated 2.6 billion people – including 980 million children – have no toilets at home. 26 percent of Africans do not have access to an improved sanitation facility — a proper toilet — which separates human waste from human contact. In countries in sub-Saharan Africa with the best water coverage rates, as many as 1 in 4 people still lack adequate sanitation. Poverty is a leading barrier to access to water and sanitation. Most of the poorest countries are on the African continent. Lack of sanitation exposes people to dehydration, disease and even death.
Access to water, sanitation and hygiene in schools is important to the well-being of children and their right to quality education. The absence of adequate sanitation has a serious impact on health and social development, especially for children. In sub-Sahara Africa only 53% schools have basic sanitation facilities and water. There are over 2000 schools without toilets in South Africa. In 2014 we were outraged by the tragic death of 5-year-old Michael Komape. Michael was at school when he fell in a pit toilet and drowned in faeces.
Imange Rawana (11) dreamt of being a police officer when she grew up. That dream came to an abrupt halt in an undignified way in June 2020. She suffocated and died after falling in a pit toilet. Since 2012 the South African government was planning of installing proper toilets in the community of Ngqolowa village (Eastern Cape).
Sanitation matters. Sanitation is a human right. The right to sanitation entitles everyone to have physical and affordable access to sanitation, in all spheres of life, that is safe, hygienic, secure, and socially and culturally acceptable and that provides privacy and ensures dignity. Sanitation matters.
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