8 April 2013

Namibia: Toilets Bring Dignity To Rural Poor

A SENSE of dignity was restored to 14 households living at farm Nuwefontein and /Aub !Goas in the Karas Region when they discarded the practice of taking long walks to the bush to relieve themselves when nature calls for using new toilet facilities in their homes.

The Desert Research Foundation of Namibia (DRFN) last Thursday officially handed over 14 urine diverting dry toilets the organisation built for the rural community in their yards.

The Finnish Embassy funded the construction of the toilets at the cost of N$6,000 each.

Having access to a decent toilet facility is a distant dream for many rural poor in the region who have go into the bushes to relieve themselves when the call of nature comes.

A baseline survey on improved sanitation conducted recently by the Rural Water Supply directorate revealed that 40,5 percent of households in the rural areas of the Karas Region still use the bush for relief.

Overjoyed at now owning a proper toilet facility 23 years after Namibia gained independence, one of the beneficiaries Blouwes Traditional Authority councillor Aloysius Duncan said: “There is at least an improvement to better our living standards. I feel happy, and can now open-heartedly invite guests (to my house) because I’ll no longer feel ashamed to direct them to the traditional pit latrine when they asked for a toilet.”

“Now we don’t have to go the bush at night to relieve ourselves, risking snake bites. These (toilets) are good for our health and hygiene,” said the 74-year-old Johannes Tsei-Tseimou.

Tsei-Tseimou also seized the opportunity to urge the government to provide the rural poor with decent housing.

“When it rains our shack dwellings leak, forcing us to move from one corner of the shack to another to avoid getting wet from the rain,” said Tsei-Tseimou.

Rachel Booysen said the new toilet is not as smelly as her old pit latrine because of proper air flow and ventilation to dry the waste.

“The proper ventilation keeps the smell away. These new toilets are beautiful and hygienic,” said Booysen.

Another beneficiary Gert Babi (60) said: “Now I can comfortably use the toilet without fear of being bitten by a snake”.

Officiating at the toilet handover ceremony, the Finnish Embassy Programme Coordinator, Marika Matengu, urged the Namibian government to train the rural people to build eco-dry toilets in their areas, adding that this will empower them to start their own enterprises to built such toilets in areas where proper sanitation facilities are lacking.

Matengu expressed hope that the new toilet facilities will bring an improvement to the lives of members of the community.

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