ECOSURE, a subsidiary of Econet Wireless has partnered with Hitbay to construct toilets in Harare in a move that that is set to reduce open defecation.
By Michael Gwarisa
The development is in line with with the World Toilet Day commemorations which is celebrated every year to promote sanitation and also help break taboos around toilets. The United Nation General Assembly formally recognised November 19 as the World Toilet Day in 2013. One of the toilets was set up at Mupedzamhamo, the sprawling open air market place at Mbare.
We are setting these toilets for free to highlight the importance of having toilets,” said an Ecosure senior manager.
Sanitation is a person’s human right and despite that even today, 4.2 billion people are deprived of safely managed sanitation, the UN says.
A toilet is not mere toilet but it is in fact “life-saver”, dignity-protector” and “opportunity-maker”, he said.
In Zimbabwe, open defecation stands at 40 percent in rural areas, however, owing to inconsistent supply of tap water by city fathers in most cities and towns, cases of open defecation have also been on the rise in urban areas.
The recent cholera epidemic which claimed at least 50 lives according to the Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC) was mainly caused by human waste which had found its way into drinking water.
MoHCC deputy minister, Dr John Mangwiro recently said the only explanation to a cholera infection was that one would have “Literally eaten human feaces”.
The impact of exposure to human faeces on this scale has a devastating impact upon public health, living conditions, nutrition, education and economic productivity across the world.
In high density areas in Harare, even though houses have modern day ablution system installed, the absence of water has a negative impact on toilet use. Residents end up using nearby fields and bushes as toilets.
Eliminating open defecation is increasingly seen as a key health outcome. Zimbabwe is working on driving the Open Defecation free zones drive in most of its urban and rural setups as a way of minimising the spread of diseases associated with human faecal matter.
An area is generally ‘open defecation free’ (ODF) when there is the absence of the practice of open defecation in such a location. This however can only be achieved provided community members have access to proper toilets.
Through funding from organisations such as the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), Zimbabwe managed to certify some areas in Mashonaland Central in Mudzi ODFs.
Defecating in open spreads various life-threatening diseases. World Toilet Day aims to tackle the global sanitation crisis. According to the United Nations, the day aims to provide access to sustainable sanitation to all by 2030.
According to the UN, ‘safely managed sanitation service’ means that people are using hygienic toilet facilities that are not shared with other people in the house. It also ensures that the excreta are either separated from human contact or safely disposed off.
UN says that even today, 637 million people across the world still defecate in open. It further said that at least 2 lakh 97 thousand children under the age of five die are estimated to die every year due to diseases such as unsafe drinking water, sanitation and hand hygiene.
The report further said that lack of sanitation is estimated to cause 4 lakh 32 thousand diarrhoeal deaths every year and is cause for several diseases including intestinal worms, trachoma and schistosomiasis.
According to a report by the World Health Organization (WHO), at least 2 billion people across the world use a drinking water source contaminated with faeces.