A report released by the Namibia Intercensal Demographic Survey in 2016 shows that about 80% of households in the Zambezi region have no toilets, forcing residents to use the bush, riverbeds and fields to answer nature.
The statistics came to light during a stakeholders' meeting which the Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA) held with the regional leadership and heads of government institutions yesterday to disseminate the information they collected from 2011 to 2016.
NSA statistician Eben Kahitu said it was observed that having no toilet facilities was common in rural areas, which stood at 70 %, while private/shared toilets were common in urban areas at 63,2%.
"At regional level, Kavango West and Zambezi had the highest proportion of having no toilet facilities, with 84,5% and 82,1%, respectively. The Zambezi region has about 26 901 households, of which only 13,7 % have private/shared flush toilets. The population in the region currently stands at 98 849, with the urban population being 28 476 the and rural population 70 373. The population increased by 1,7 % from 2011 to 2016," he stated.
The Namibian spoke to some of the local residents of the informal settlements around Katima Mulilo, who expressed concern over the lack of proper toilet facilities, and described the situation as unhygienic.
"I came to live in Cowboy settlement three years ago, and we have not been provided with toilets. If nature calls, we go to the bush, which is very unhygienic and not safe, especially at night. The situation gets worse when it is raining, like it was last week. You would then see bags of faeces lying around the flooded streets as people would relieve themselves inside their houses and throw the bags into the streets. These are the same flooded streets we need to walk in to go to work, and it is unhealthy, so we urgently need toilets," observed Aldrin Boha.
Another concerned resident, Given Masule, who lives in the Choto compound with his wife and children, said this is a serious issue that needs urgent attention as it poses a threat to their health.
"I have been living in Choto since 1996, and until today we have no toilet facilities. Every time we go to the Katima Mulilo Town Council to demand toilets, we are given empty promises. I have resorted to digging a hole next to my house so that my family has somewhere to go when nature calls," he added.
Efforts to get comment from the town council were unsuccessful, as questions sent to spokesperson Pasval Elijah were not answered.