Toilet hygiene for better health

The Department of Water and Sanitation has called on residents to value their sanitation facilities to prevent the spread of illnesses in communities.

“We are calling out on residents to have renewed relationships with their toilets. What we have found over time is that conversations about toilets are uncomfortable. Unfortunately, this is a conversation we cannot put off as a department anymore, especially now as the world is faced with a global pandemic,” department spokesperson Sputnik Ratau said.

The call comes ahead of World Toilet Day, which is observed by the global community on 19 November.

The annual World Toilet Day aims to raise awareness about the significance of dignified and safely managed sanitation facilities.

It also inspires action to tackle the global sanitation challenges to help achieve Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG 6), which promises sanitation for all by 2030 and beyond.

Ratau said poor sanitation facilities have detrimental effects on the health of children and adults with underlying health conditions and can lead to other health problems including dehydration, anaemia, and malnutrition.

“A poorly kept toilet has devastating consequences not only for one’s health but also the environment, particularly in the poorest and most marginalised communities.

“It is for this reason that as a department we are advocating for a new vision and approach to sanitation services provision which entails the notion that it should not all be about flushing, but effectively managed sanitation,” Ratau said.

Ratau added that the need to value toilets is of paramount importance, as “they are an integral part of people’s live hoods and deserve a decent social status”.

According to Statistics South Africa, households with access to improved sanitation in South Africa increased from 49% in 1996 to 82.2% in 2019.

Ratau said the department is aware that there are still approximately 2.8 million households in the country without access to improved sanitation services, and it is working tirelessly to ensure improvement of access.

“There is work being done, while wheels are set in motion to continue to eradicate the bucket toilet system in provinces such as the Free State, Eastern Cape, North West, Northern Cape and Limpopo Provinces. We urge members of the public to practice good upkeep of their sanitation facilities,” Ratau said.

Source: South African Government News Agency