Thu. Dec 12th, 2019

297,000 children die from diarrhea due to unsafe drinking water, sanitation and hand hygiene

By Alain kabinda

The National Water Supply and Sanitation Council (NWASCO) has called for concerted efforts by all stakeholders in the sanitation service chain to ensure safe and proper disposal of waste water and faecal sludge in the country.

The National Water and Sanitation regulator observes that there is increased need for safely managed sanitation in the entire sanitation service chain across the country.  

The observation comes as the country commemorates the “world Toilet Day” which falls on November 19th whose theme is “leaving no one behind, toilets for all”.

NWASCO Director Kelvin Chitumbo noted that poorly built sanitation facilities are a risk to health as they pollute the groundwater adding that the public have the responsibility to guarantee proper facilities especially in communities they live in.

“There is need for safe disposal of faecal matter beginning at household level in the toilets all the way through the service chain” Chitumbo said.

The sanitation service chain comprises toilets which include interfaces and containments such as urinals, pit latrines and septic tanks, emptying, transportation, treatment and disposal/reuse. Currently, according to 2017 Joint Monitoring Program Report only49% and 19% of urban and rural areas population respectively have access to at least basic sanitation.

Further, the report indicated that open defecation was 25% and 1% in rural and urban areas respectively. While only 47% make use of the sewerage network countrywide in the urban areas according to 2018 NWASCO Sector Report with the Capital City Lusaka having less than 15%.

The NWASCO director added that although a proper toilet is often regarded as an individual responsibility, it cannot be dealt with in isolation as once contamination occurs in any part of the service chain, could result in a disaster.

“As a regulator, NWASCO is anxious to see that there is increased number of the public accessing adequate sanitation if diarrheal diseases are to be controlled particularly in young children”, Chitumbo added

Sanitation crisis is untreated human waste is spreading diseases into water supplies and the food chain for billions of people. Every year about 432,000 diarrhea deaths are caused due to inadequate sanitation and is a major cause of various diseases including intestinal worms, trachoma and schistosomiasis.

Every year around 297,000 children die from diarrhea due to unsafe drinking water, sanitation and hand hygiene and Countries that are affected by protracted conflict and children living there under the age of five are on average; nearly 20 times are more likely to die. They die due to diarrhea caused by a lack of water, sanitation and hygiene than by direct violence.

Loss of productivity to water and sanitation related diseases costs various countries up to 5% of GDP. Therefore, World Toilet Day raises awareness about the sanitation and focuses to have an access to a clean toilet for good health globally. Sanitation is a human right and to come out of poverty it is necessary to focus on sanitation. It is evident that the role of toilets in the realization of fundamental human rights is incredibly significant and cannot be overstated.

And according to the research report children under the age of five in countries affected by protracted conflict are on average nearly 20 times more likely to die from diarrheal diseases caused by a lake of safe water, sanitation and hygiene than by direct violence (UNICEF 2019).

World Toilet day celebrated on 19th November every year is about inspiring action to tackle the global sanitation crisis and help achieve sustainable Development Goal (SDGs) 6 which promises sanitation for by 2020. It was made official UN day in 2013 Un-water leads a taskforce of international agencies to campaign around a common theme.

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