Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

11 January 2014

Tanzania: Poor Sanitation Claims 1,500 Lives of Women and Girls

Photo: UNESCO
At least 1,500 women and girls die every year from diseases related to water and sanitation in Tanzania (file photo).

It is estimated that 1,500 women and girls die every year from diseases brought about by lack of access to sanitation and water in the country.

According to the report published by Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council, WaterAid and Unilever, nearly nine out of ten women in Tanzania risk shame, disease and dignity because they have nowhere safe to go to the toilet and 2.8 million women have no choice but to go to relieve themselves out in the open.

"A collaborative approach between the Tanzanian Government, civil society and business is essential in getting the Millennium Development Goal sanitation target back on track in order to improve the health and prosperity of women in the country," say the report.

The report published on the first United Nations (UN) to recognise World Toilet Day, serves as a reminder of the around 40 million people lacking access to an improved toilet in Tanzania, with devastating consequences in particular for the wellbeing, health, education and empowerment of women and girls in the country.

WaterAid Tanzania Country Representative, Dr Ibrahim Kabole calls for government, civil society and business community to team up towards tackling sanitation for women's health in the country.

"There is need for an increase on sanitation financing to meet the country's Millennium Development Goals targets," he says, adding that the country was currently off track from meeting the sanitation MDG target which is due to be completed in 2015.

Dr Kabole recommends that the ongoing National Sanitation Campaign and Water Sector Development Programme in Tanzania should ensure that all schools have adequate sanitation facilities including hand washing facilities and separate toilets for boys and girls with access for students with disabilities.

"There is also need to ensure that specific provision is made at school for establishing proper menstrual hygiene management facilities. Ensure hygiene promotion is featured as an important part of the school curriculum from primary level," he adds.

On the other hand, the report highlights that menstruating girls have additional sanitation needs in the school environment. This includes both physical and hardware components such as the number of latrines, privacy and availability of clean water.

"Lack of these components can result in ineffective participation in class, school days lost each month or even dropping out of school altogether," reads part of the report.

The report said that the studies in Tanzania show that WASH facilities that are suitable for children with disabilities are found in only 4 per cent of schools with some 60 per cent of latrines for girls missing doors, depriving girls from privacy and their dignity.

The report, titled "We can't wait," brings together real life case studies of people, alongside research from a variety of organisations and agencies that examine the impact of a lack of sanitation for women and girls. According to the report, globally, one person in three lacks access to adequate sanitation.

The result is widespread deaths and diseases - especially among children - and social marginalisation. Women are particularly vulnerable. "Poor sanitation exposes females to the risk of assault, and when schools cannot provide clean, safe, toilets girls' attendance drop," says UN Deputy Secretary General Jan Eliasson.

Echoing the Eliasson, the Chief Executive Officer of Unilever, Paul Polman, says that: "We simply cannot wait. By acting decisively now, we can make a positive impact on global health, education, women's safety, social equality and economic growth for generations to come".

On the other hand, the report calls for governments (both developing and donor countries) to strengthen the sanitation sector and bring the respective Millennium Development Goal target back on track as an immediate and urgent political priority.

It recommends for government across the world to keep their promises and implement the commitments made at national level, regional level global level (Sanitation and Water for All), including increasing financial resources to the sector.

The wise use of the resources and ensuring that the most marginalised and vulnerable people are targeted is also called for the post- 2015 development framework to succeed MDGs needs to address water, sanitation and hygiene as priority issues.

"You should set ambitious targets to achieve universal access to water, sanitation and hygiene, and gradually reduce and eventually eliminate inequalities in access and use," recommends the report. The report calls for more actors in the private sector to realise the social and business opportunities and invest in social development.

More frequent and cross-sector collaboration is essential to achieving real progress. In another development, the Unilever Senior Vice- President Household Care calls for concerted efforts that combines the experience, knowledge and resources of both public and private sector organisations to bring safe sanitation to hundreds of millions of people.

The Deputy Minister for Regional Administration and Local Governments, Kassim Majaliwa, says that statistics shows that 22 per cent of homes in towns and 9 per cent in villages are the only ones with clean toilets. "The state of cleanliness in the country is not satisfactory, especially toilets in homes, institutions, health and bus stops," he says.

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InFocus

Poor Sanitation Claims Hundreds in Tanzania

At least 1,500 women and girls die every year from diseases related to water and sanitation in Tanzania (file photo).

According to a report by Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council, at least 1,500 women and girls die every year from diseases related to water and sanitation. Read more »