Friday, December 2, 2022

World Toilet Day: 779 million people lack safe sanitation services, WHO says

Ms Moeti said 208 million people still practice open defecation.

• November 19, 2022
Matshidiso Moeti
Matshidiso Moeti

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says at least 779 million people worldwide lack basic access to safely managed sanitation services.

Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO regional director for Africa, said this on Friday in her message to commemorate World Toilet Day (WTD).

She said that between 2000 and 2020, the population of Africa increased from 800 million to 1.3 billion.

According to her, during the period, at least 290 million people around the world had access to at least basic sanitation.

She added, “However, 779 million people still lack those basic services; of these, 208 million still practice open defecation.”

World Toilet Day is annually celebrated on November 19 to raise awareness about the importance of toilets to healthy life and hygiene.

The day has “Groundwater and Sanitation – Making the Invisible Visible” as the theme for 2022.

Ms Moeti said 208 million people still practice open defecation.

According to her, safely managed sanitation services will lead to the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 6 target and essential for realising other SDGs.

Ms Moeti also said that access to safely managed sanitation services, combined with safely managed drinking water services and good hygiene practices, was fundamental to public health.

The director said that the WHO and UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme report on progress on drinking water and sanitation highlighted that only 29 per cent of healthcare facilities in Africa have basic sanitation services.

She said the Joint Monitoring Programme 2020 data showed 33 per cent of households in Africa have basic sanitation services, with 21 per cent using safely managed sanitation facilities.

“Two out of three people lack safely managed sanitation services. The same report shows that in Africa, 27 per cent of rural and five per cent of urban populations still practice open defecation.

“We must work on average four times faster to ensure everyone has a safe toilet by 2030,” she added.

She explained that the connection between sanitation and groundwater could not be overlooked, saying that in densely populated urban settings, pit latrines and septic tanks sited close to water points that draw from shallow aquifers create potentially serious health risks.

She pointed out that such has a profound impact on public health and environmental integrity.

Ms Moeti said for women and girls, in particular, toilets at home, schools, and work help them fulfill their potential and play their full role in society, especially during menstruation and pregnancy.

She said, “the indignity, inconvenience, and danger of not having access to safely managed sanitation is a barrier to their full participation in society.

“Safely managed and properly sited sanitation protects humans and groundwater from faecal waste pathogens.

“A safe and sustainable sanitation system begins with a toilet that effectively captures human waste in a safe, accessible, and dignified setting.

“Toilets drive improvements in health, gender equality, education, economics, and the environment.” 


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