Gauteng and NW Province

Human rights: No flush of success

Poor toilet facilities reflect the state’s lack of recognition of informal settlements as permanent.

There is no greater indictment of our collective failure to address historic injustice in South Africa than the presidency’s admission last week that 16-million people still live without access to a clean and safe toilet.

Having just celebrated Human Rights Day, it is important not only to reflect on the rights we won almost two decades ago, but also on how – for a third of the population – basic rights to a health, a clean environment, safety and dignity are violated daily.
Few families living in poor informal settlements or rural areas are left untouched by the broad impact of inadequate sanitation. Unhygienic conditions in and around toilets directly contribute to the widespread prevalence of illnesses such as diarhoea and gastroenteritis.

There is a public outrage over the thousands of toilets without walls or roofs that had been built in various municipalities across the country, forcing residents to relieve themselves in the open.

At least 10% of of all people living in South Africa live in informal slums, generally on the periphery of large cities. Sanitation provision could serve as a vital first step towards progressively realising the vision of turning informal settlements into more livable communities.

A toilet stall shared between 100 people quickly breaks down without routine maintenance and cleaning. Poor monitoring means that once a toilet breaks down, it can remain in such a state for months, or even years.

The South African Human Rights Commission has declared March Human Rights Month and the focus in 2012 is water and sanitation. During recent hearings on sanitation held across the country, it became evident that all concerned, including the government, agreed that delivery had to be prioritised.

– Gavin Silber –
Mail & Guardian March 23 – 29 2012

Imagine all those toilets be fitted with a Multi-Flush! The water savings would be huge and maybe it would last a little longer….

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