By David Kiarie
Dar es salaam (Originally Published on: Sep 26, 2013)
As the world marks the World Toilet Day today, November 19, many families in the world still do not have access to sanitation facilities.
According to UNICEF, 1.1 billion people around the world defecate in the open, contaminating their environments and water sources besides spreading diseases like diarrhea, which kills 2,000 children less than 5 years old every day.
In Tanzania, only 10 per cent of her people have access to improved sanitation. Over 40 million of citizens in the Eastern Africa country do not have to improved sanitation.
6.5 million people in the country defecate in the open according to Unicef, causing illnesses related to poor hygiene that could have been avoided, and which costs the government millions of money that could otherwise be used for development.
Besides this high cost of treatment, the country is robbed of many working hours as sick workers nurse their ailments in health facilities or at home.
The country is among 12 nations globally that are worst off on sanitation. It is also classified among the 11 countries worst off on access to improved water sources in the world with 21 million of her citizens lacking access to improved water supply. 53 per cent of the population has access to improved water supply.
Learning institutions have not been spared either with the national average number of students per latrine being 56.
84 per cent of schools lack a functioning hand-washing facility while 38 per cent of the schools lack safe drinking water supply.
A survey by Unicef indicates that 99 per cent of the schools do not provide a bar soap for pupils to use for washing hands after visiting the toilet.
96 per cent of schools have no sanitary facilities suitable or accessible to children with disabilities.
It is estimated that a total of US $0.47 billion is required to fund provisions for water, sanitation and hygiene to approximately 18,000 schools.
WASH needs per school stands at US $25,000 which totals to US $3.2 million per district. The overall WASH needs is US $427.8 million.
Four children under five years die of diarrhea in Tanzania every hour and the government spends 70 per cent of the health budget to treat water related diseases.
The inaction cost for sanitation is estimated at US $200 million per annum, which is one per cent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).
The Tanzania Unicef chief WASH officer Omar Hattab while speaking to journalists during a media training on water, sanitation and hygiene in Dar es Salaam called for public sensitization on the subject saying this was a sure way of averting the many waterborne diseases that people contract due to poor sanitation.
A recent media tour to a local primary school at Vingunguti slums of Ilala district in Dar es Salaam revealed that pupils in the poor urban areas were hard hit.
At Mtakuja primary school, which has a population of over 3,500 pupils, only 47 latrines were available with girls using 27 of them. This means 74 pupils use one latrine.
The school head Godrick Rutayungururwa says the institution requires at least 100 latrines for boys and 121 for girls to ensure proper sanitation and reduce wasting of time by the pupils whenever they want to answer calls of nature.
Art In Tanzania, a non-governmental organization, has introduced a dry toilets project where modern sanitation facilities that require no water will be built in homes and institutions with unreliable or no water supply.
Proponents of this project say the facility is a better option to many people in the world with many countries still facing water shortage problems.
This will see users of the dry toilets avoid water bills and therefore use the money they would have spent on water to flash toilets put to other use.
The cost required for water bournbe sanitation is prohibitive in most parts of the world.
According to ECOSAN, a waterless toilet system website, the regular operating and maintenance costs of sanitation systems such as bucket latrines, septic tanks, chemical and waterbourne toilets are very high and could be avoided with the use of the dry toilet facilities.
Ecosan also says dry toilet system is affordable, completely closed, has no sewerage pipe network and does not require a sewage treatment plant.
‘It has conclusively been proven that nitrate loaded effluent from pit latrines is directly responsible for widespread contamination of valuable groundwater resources,’ the site says in part.
They further say there is no obnoxious odours and the toilets can be installed both indoors and outdoors.
One of the beneficiaries of the dry toilet project by Art In Tanzania, Shadrack Mkungu says the facility is better compared to pit latrines that most people use at his Mapinga village in Bagamoyo.
“This is a modern toilet and people are visiting me frequently to see the facility. They wish they had such a facility at their homes,” Mkungu says.
The father of four also says the facility is safe enough to be used by children since they cannot fall as it happens with pit latrines.
“I had not seen or used this kind of a toilet before and I recommend that this project be replicated in other part of the district and the country at large,” he says.
The toilet was constructed and installed by two Finish students Lotta partanen and Juha Ojala who are on internship at Art In Tanzania.
The environmental technology students say the dry toilet technology could help avert many water borne disease if replicated in many parts of Tanzania where water is scarce.
In order to achieve millennium development goals, the country requires an additional US $100 million to fund sanitation according to UNICEF