Toilet; A Basic Need or Luxury?
Perhaps we have taken the fact that we can go to the toilet any time we wish for granted. I was born seeing latrines everywhere. Some were too old and I often feared they would give in to the user any time if felt it didn’t desire the weight of the burdened individual.
In my wildest dreams, I never thought it real that there could be a people without access to proper sanitation and in this case I mean toilet/latrines primarily. How naïve of me back then? Because even in the city here, Nairobi, access to toilet or even latrine is a huge challenge to some people. To them it becomes a luxury as opposed to a basic need.
The challenge becomes dire as we go to the rural areas. This was revealed two weeks ago as I watched a piece of news in one of the local stations which was showing how pollution resulting from improper human waste disposal was posing health risks in the South Nyanza region.
Talking of lack of access to a latrine means that affording a tissue paper is even a bigger challenge. This poses danger to these people from the villages who go disposing their waste in the bushes nearby and which in turn ends up in the local rivers and streams as a result of surface run off when these areas experience rains. The same water ends up in these families houses and often exposes them to great health risks.
Late last year, I had a small assignment to do a story for a certain project that was based in a slum area here in Nairobi. When I travelled there, I discovered the project was based in the heartbeat area of the slum. I had a great challenge getting a toilet service and had to contend with the fact.
Then early this year, I went to another small upcoming slum area and realized that a cluster of few toilets served the whole area. Speaking of the whole area means one toilet serving up to more than 50 people. You can imagine the challenge these people have accessing a toilet at the convenient time.
It took me to think about what our county governments could do by priotizing the very necessary. Imagine setting aside money to build about 200 community latrines per financial year where the need is dire, it means at the end of the five years, a good leader could have built about 1000 toilets.
1000 community toilets and latrines means a significant development towards offering a proper and sustainable way of waste disposal and hence clean communities. Other initiatives could go into improving the standards of the latrines and toilets of those who already have theirs at the moment.
How can this be? In the 2018 Nairobi Innovation Week, I saw an innovation flagged by UNICEF in which plastic toilet bowls were designed to be incorporated in the village setting kind of latrines. It thus means we can improve the sanitation levels of latrines in the villages in an affordable way as well as sustainably for the long term betterment of the standards of the people.
If we can have proper plans in our disposal and implement them to the latter, then we can have something to celebrate about during the world toilet day as well as sanitation day. And here I speak of a collective celebration as opposed to an individual celebration.
You can imagine what it means when I celebrate about my proper access to a good toilet or latrine and forget about my friend or neighbor who doesn’t have one. The more I celebrate every other year and do nothing about that neighbor too to celebrates means the pharisaical person in me is at play which simply means am gullible.
As one preacher stood to preach about the burning bush in the book of Exodus in the bible, he remarked that he doesn’t desire anybody to be introduced as one from the bush. To him, if one called you a bushman, the person is not praising you but simply degrading you.
Bushmen for a fact don’t have even latrines, they don’t have access to clean and enough water and cleaning agents. So a bushman is not a praise. It thus should be our collective measure to ensure there is no ‘Bushmen’ amongst us. And suffice to say that if we don’t do anything, then we will be called gullible, selfish and self-centered.
If being called a bushman isn’t enough, then being called gullible, selfish as well as self-centered is not any better. To the people helping our people have access to toilet and latrine facilities, mine is to thank you. It takes absolute humanity to desire the good of others.
Let us hold hands together and ensure we have a proper toilet or latrine per household. As such, we could be working together towards ensuring that our communities are clean, healthy and free of ill causing agents which mostly result out of poor human fecal disposal. Let’s make a toilet or latrine an affordable, basic need for all.