Toilets change lives. Period

Every child should have somewhere decent to go to the toilet. That’s why Baby Soft and WaterAid have teamed up to build toilets in rural communities

28 September 2021 - 16:00
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Baby Soft and WaterAid have teamed up to build toilets in rural communities.
Baby Soft and WaterAid have teamed up to build toilets in rural communities.
Image: 123RF/Djembe

Who can ever forget that horrific day in January 2014 when five-year-old Michael Komape from Chebeng Village in Limpopo drowned in a broken pit toilet during his first week of school? Seven years later, children are still vulnerable to unsafe toilets and poor hygiene conditions in SA.

More than 3,800 SA schools only have pit toilets

In 2018, the government’s sanitation audit found that 3,898 schools across SA only had pit latrines available. Another 3,040 schools had proper sanitation but still housed pit toilets, making it dangerous for children to go to school.

In 2020, the Limpopo department of basic education found that 80% of schools in the province were still using basic pit toilets, with no access to water. The report showed 35% of schools had toilets that were in such poor condition they needed to be replaced, and 37% of toilets across schools were pit toilets and insufficient for the number of pupils.

“Add the fact that 3-million households in SA don’t have access to reliable drinking water, and 14.1-million people cannot access safe sanitation, and we have a public health crisis on our hands. One that’s made even worse by the Covid-19 pandemic where something as basic as washing your hands can save your life,” says Elijah Adera, regional programme manager for WaterAid Southern Africa.

Despite the department of basic education’s claim in August this year that it has made “great strides” in replacing pit latrines at schools across SA, Section27 has charged the state for not having a “clear and coherent plan” to do so. Advocate Chris McConnachie said the plan will only start in 2026 and end in 2030.

Changing lives one toilet at a time

“Every child should have somewhere decent to go to the toilet,” Adera says. “Chapter two of the SA constitution says everyone has the right of access to basic water supply and sanitation services.”

That is why Baby Soft has teamed up with WaterAid to help build toilets in rural communities. They have been working together in partnership since 2018 to transform the lives of schoolchildren in the Vhembe district of Limpopo.

During the first phase of the programme, they worked with Tsogang Water to improve hygiene and sanitation services at five schools, reaching 1,200 pupils and 42 teachers. “This work has been key in supporting these five schools to reopen and address the needs of pupils during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.”

For every select pack of Baby Soft toilet paper you buy, the company will donate R4 to WaterAid to help build toilets in 10 schools.
For every select pack of Baby Soft toilet paper you buy, the company will donate R4 to WaterAid to help build toilets in 10 schools.
Image: Supplie/Baby Soft

In 2019, the programme was extended to four additional schools and reached about 2,612 pupils and two surrounding communities in the Vhembe district by June 2021. And that’s just the beginning.

In the next three years, Baby Soft and WaterAid will build toilets and improve sanitation access for 8,574 pupils and teachers in 10 schools and more than 17,000 people in the surrounding community.

Here’s how you can help

For every select pack of Baby Soft toilet paper you buy, the company will donate R4 to WaterAid to help build toilets in 10 schools. You’re not just buying toilet paper, you’re changing lives — one toilet at a time.

Look out for the WaterAid promotion on select packs in stores now.

To find out more, visit www.wateraid.org.

This article was paid for by Baby Soft.

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