Tuesday, January 13, 2009

"Flying Toilets"

Millennium Development Goal number 7 aims to reduce by half the number of people without proper sanitation. Sadly, most of East Africa will not meet the goals deadline of 2015.

Even though many of the countries have promised to make sanitation a priority, we have yet to see that promise fulfilled in budgets. Kenya spends 13 million a year on sanitation development, but 40 million is needed. The southern half of Sudan shows only 6 percent of the population having access to toilets.

The problem is only made worse by lack of food. Aid organizations will provide latrine making tools to people, but they will just sell them in order to buy food.

Joyce Mulama of IPP Media explains to us the concept of flying toliets in this snippet.

Despite governments in the region being signatories to several declarations on improving sanitation, many East African households still lack access to flush toilets or pit latrines.

Open defecation is widespread, and `flying toilets`, where people defecate in plastic bags and throw them away at night are the rule rather than the exception in many informal settlements.

``This is the way we live. We do not have toilets, and no place to safely dispose of our waste,`` said Nicholas Ambeyo. ``Because of this, and the lack of sufficient water, and the open sewers that run through our houses, we are at a risk of contracting diseases.``

Ambeyo spoke to IPS in his home in Kibera. With a population estimated to be close to a million people, Kibera is one of Africa`s largest slums. It is approximately seven kilometres from Nairobi city centre.

``In fact as we are talking, my wife has just arrived home from that hospital with my two children who have been treated for cholera,`` he said, pointing at a run-down health centre a stones`` throw away.

Poor sanitation facilities often lead to ill health. For instance 30 percent of Kenya`s disease burden is sanitation-related, with many children dying from diarrhoeal diseases including dysentery, cholera and typhoid, according to the Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation. The UN says that such deaths could be prevented through investment in toilets, water and hygiene.

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