On World Toilet Day, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) reminds government to scale up efforts to address the sanitation problem in urban and rural communities.
Commemorated every year on 19 November, World Toilet Day aims to inspire collective action to tackle the global sanitation crisis and help strive to achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 which aims to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.
The theme for this year is, 'leaving no one behind'. This resonates with current global efforts towards achieving universal access to sanitation. Adequate sanitation is a human right and the State has an obligation to ensure that everyone has physical and affordable access to sanitation, in all spheres of life.
The benefits a functional sanitation system is not limited to restoring dignity but also leads to saving money that may end up being spent to get treatment for preventable diseases related to poor sanitation.
World Toilet Day is being commemorated at a time when the government of Zimbabwe disclosed that 26% of households in Zimbabwe do not have any toilet facility. This admission was made during the presentation of the combined 11th to 15th periodic report to the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights during its 65th Ordinary Session in the Gambia. It is a testimony that the scale of the problem of poor sanitation in Zimbabwe is serious. Open defecation remains a deeply rooted practice.
ZLHR is concerned that in 2019, Zimbabwe continues to record outbreaks of cases of typhoid, a 'medieval' water-borne disease that is largely preventable.
The outbreaks of preventable waterborne diseases is a terrible consequence of local and central government's failure to commit adequate resources, and lack of capacity to manage the country's health care system and provide basic services such as water and sanitation infrastructure.
ZLHR holds both local and central government accountable for outbreaks of such waterborne diseases. Government has dismally failed to fulfil fundamental constitutional obligations particularly section 48, section 51, section 73, section 76 and section 77, of the Constitution which places an obligation on state actors to ensure that citizens' rights are not compromised but progressively realised.
In order not to leave anyone behind, ZLHR calls upon government to;
Allocate adequate resources and ensure that everyone has a safe toilet by 2030;
Provide clean, potable running water and sanitary environs to curb the spread of both preventable and deadly diseases;
Increase funding allocation on water, sanitation and hygiene and strive to achieve 15% allocation to health as stipulated in the Abuja Declaration in order to enhance the quality of life of citizens;
Find sustainable solutions to ameliorate Zimbabwe's sanitation challenges.
Source: Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)