SA more worried about poor lighting than hygiene of shared toilets

20 November 2018 - 13:42 By Nico Gous
The communal toilets in Taiwan in Khayelitsha, Cape Town, where a resident slipped and broke her leg earlier in November 2018.
The communal toilets in Taiwan in Khayelitsha, Cape Town, where a resident slipped and broke her leg earlier in November 2018.
Image: Sibusiso Mdlankomo

South African households sharing toilets are more worried about poor lighting than poor hygiene.

That is what Stats SA said on Monday - World Toilet Day which focuses on improving access to toilets and sustainable management of water and sanitation for everyone by 2030.

According to their 2017 General Household Survey (GHS), more than 23.7% households worried about poor lighting and 21.6% about poor hygiene.

“Going to the toilet is a basic human need. Women and girls are more at risk of attack and if the toilet facilities are poorly lit they cannot go to the toilet when they want or need to. Shared toilets or community toilets do not address the needs of women and girls who are at greater risk of harassment and sexual violence than men.”

Stats SA wrote, referencing their GHS report on water and sanitation: “Lack of basic sanitation indirectly inhibits the learning abilities of millions of school-aged children who are infested with intestinal worms transmitted through inadequate sanitation facilities and poor hygiene. Every year, millions of the world’s poorest people die from preventable diseases caused by inadequate water supply and sanitation services. Women and children are the main victims.”

Problems that households experienced that share an toilet. World Toilet Day was celebrated on Monday November 19.
Problems that households experienced that share an toilet. World Toilet Day was celebrated on Monday November 19.
Image: Stats SA

The GHS survey also found the number of households using bucket toilets or without sanitation facilities declined from 12.6% in 2002 to 3.1% in 2017. The sharpest decline was in the Eastern Cape.

Stats SA said the number of households with access to improved sanitation had increased from 61.7% in 2002 to 82.2% in 2017.

“Access to proper sanitation is important and must ensure that human rights and human dignity are preserved. The provision of toilets must also provide for the requirements of women and girls using public and community toilets,” wrote Stats SA.

“Shared toilets allow households who do not have toilets in their individual homes access to toilets. However, they do present a myriad of problems which point to health and safety issues in communities.”

Unhygienic toilets can lead to cholera and diarrhoea.

Washing your hands can help control infectious diseases, but 17.9% of households said they could not wash their hands because they did not have water.

About six out of every 10 people in the world do not have a toilet at home or one that hygienically disposes of waste, according to the World Health Organisation and the UN Children’s Fund. This translates to about 4.5bn people across the globe.


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