As All Africa's own Hellen Mwihoreze reports, the environment is hurt in the area as a lot of waste water is dumped without treatment.
Poor sanitation is undermining all development efforts in Eastern Africa and constraining progress against the health, education, gender and poverty Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and yet the potential for realizing significant public health gains in the world's poorest countries is huge.
A survey by the international organization Water Aid shows that over 70% of the population in Eastern Africa do not have access to adequate sanitation, and more than 200,000 children are dying each year from diarrhea due to lack of adequate sanitation.
This was revealed during the Eastern Africa conference on sanitation held in Nairobi recently, to review progress on implementing the commitments made under the "e Thekwini Declaration" signed by African ministers in Durban, South Africa, on February 20. 2008.
Oliver Cumming, the Water Aid policy officer, said that the international development community must respond to the development needs of the poor. "How can governments overlook an issue that contributes to the deaths of millions and millions of children every year?" Cumming asked.
In 2002 sanitation was added to the list of MDGs (Millennium development goals), aiming to solve half of the problem by 2015 the proportion of people without sustainable access to basic sanitation, which comprises access to safe drinking water, estimated by the percentage of the population using improved drinking water sources; and access to sanitary means of excreta disposal, estimated by the percentage of the population using improved sanitation facilities (those more likely to ensure privacy and hygienic use).
Five years on, however, the sanitation MDG is badly off track; at the current rate of progress, it will not be met in Sub-Saharan Africa. According to the Water Aid survey, in Sub-Saharan Africa 221,000,000 people are practicing open defecation, and 546,000,000 people lack adequate sanitation.
Poor sanitation kills more children than HIV/Aids, malaria and measles combined yet it remains neglected. Most donor and aid-receiving governments don't even know how much they're spending on the sector, it was noted during the conference.