Abuja — The World Health Organization (WHO) has said that of Africa’s estimated 800 million people, only 290 million people had access to basic sanitation between 2000 and 2020.
The world body said 779 million people still lack these basic sanitation services, while 208 million still practice open defecation in Africa.
WHO Regional Director for Africa Dr Matshidiso Moeti made the point in a message she delivered to mark World Toilet Day 2022, which reflected sanitation and groundwater in legislation.
He said the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Program report on progress on safe drinking water and sanitation showed that only 29 percent of health care facilities in Africa have basic sanitation services.
She said: “According to the 2020 Joint Monitoring Program data, 33 per cent of households in Africa have basic sanitation services, and 21 per cent use safely managed sanitation facilities.
“Two out of three people lack safely managed sanitation services. The same report shows that in Africa, 27 percent of rural populations and 5 percent of urban populations still practice open defecation.
“We must work on average four times faster to ensure everyone has a safe toilet by 2030. The connection between sanitation and groundwater cannot be overlooked,” said the regional director.
Moeti said the report further showed that in densely populated urban settings, pit latrines and septic tanks located near water points that draw water from shallow aquifers create potentially serious health risks.
“This has a profound impact on public health and environmental integrity. For women and girls in particular, toilets at home, school and work help them fulfill their potential and play their full role in society.” , especially during menstruation and pregnancy.
“The indignity, discomfort and danger of not having access to safely managed sanitation is a barrier to their full participation in society,” he said.
The regional director said that access to safely managed sanitation services in combination with safely managed drinking water services and good hygiene practices is critical to ensuring public health.
He said safely managed sanitation services will lead to meeting the SDG 6 targets and are essential for the realization of all other sustainable development goals.
World Toilet Day is celebrated annually on November 19 with the aim of addressing the global sanitation crisis and achieving Sustainable Development Goal 6: “Water and sanitation for all by 2030”.
This year’s theme, “Sanitation and Groundwater”, focuses on the impact of the sanitation crisis on groundwater.