Sanitation is a major priority in the world development agenda. It is an issue that has been addressed in the sustainable development goals launched in 2015, where the target is to ensure that every Kenyan has access to improved sanitation by 2030.
Toilets have a great role to play in stimulating the economy of a country, improving health standards as well as protecting and upgrading the dignity of people, especially women and girls.
Poor sanitation usually causes stress to women and girls, and this exposes them to more risks as they try to look for places where they can relieve themselves. Some of them have been sexually assaulted, leaving them with deep wounds in their hearts; wounds that are difficult to heal. They have also been exposed to serious health hazards.
The issue of poor sanitation is not only a national disaster, but an international nightmare mainly facing the third world countries. Although governments and Non-Governmental Organizations like World Health Organization are trying to curb the problem, there is a lot that is yet to be done.
Currently, 2.4 billion people in the world lack improved sanitation, with one out of ten people opting for open defecation due to lack of toilets (World Health Organization (WHO)/UNICEF, 2015). The open defecation exercise is a serious issue that has to be challenged by all means possible.
Mostly, people living in unimproved settlements commonly referred to as slums practice open defecation, and this has exposed residents to serious diseases like diarrhea, cholera and others. This has mostly affected children and women.
According to a research by WAS-Hwatch, 2016, diarrhea caused by poor sanitation and unsafe water kills 315,000 children every year. This is a huge loss, bearing in mind that there are other challenges posing threat to the lives of children and humankind at large.
Poor sanitation also has negative impact on the economy as it reduces the productivity of the people. Those suffering from sanitation related illnesses are unable to work well and this costs countries a lot in terms of medication and also people being unable to engage in any development activities. This costs countries up to 5% of GDP (Hutton 2012)
As we approach the D-Day; November 19, 2016 when the whole world will be marking the World Toilet Day, I only have one hope; that conferences and forums being held all over the world to mark this auspicious occasion will come up with a solution to curb poor sanitation nightmare. We have the resources, we have the skills and we have full potential to ensure that everyone in the world has access to proper sanitation.
David Mwaura, Communications Officer-Africaqua