If there are billions of people without proper toilets, imagine the human waste that ends up in our water resources, says the writer. File picture: Pixabay

A toilet is one of the most important places that is normally taken for granted. We all take note of the importance of a toilet when nature calls and we are pressed to relieve ourselves.

Annually, 19 November is World Toilet Day which highlights the importance of a toilet for human dignity and health and inspires action to tackle the global sanitation crisis. This year, the theme is “When Nature Calls” highlighting the serious importance of a proper toilet when nature calls. The theme also emphasizes the importance of a toilet for human health and a healthy environment.

A toilet gives a person dignity and at the same time saves lives as human waste not disposed of in a correct manner spreads diseases. Sanitation is a human right and everyone deserves a proper toilet for human dignity. Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG 6) talks about ensuring availability and sustainable management of sanitation and water for all by 2030 which makes the availability of proper toilets critical for the attainment of this key developmental goal.

We all need to work together to ensure that everyone has access to a dignified toilet as currently about 4.5 billion people live without a safe toilet and 892 million still practice open defecation. Relieving oneself in an open field exposes people to human faeces which are dangerous to spreading killer diseases. It is therefore crucial that we all have access to proper and hygienic toilets to prevent the spread of diseases and ensure a healthy society.

The lack of proper toilets also negatively impacts the environment leading to environmental degradation and the spread of diseases. Water is the main victim in relation to poor sanitation facilities, such as proper toilets. If there are billions of people without proper toilets, imagine the human waste that ends up in our water resources.

Water is life and sanitation is dignity according to the Department of Water and Sanitation, but without proper and safe toilets, water becomes the main source of death through waterborne diseases. Without proper toilets and sanitation facilities, raw sewage ends up in our water resources leading to dangerously high e-coli levels. So it is critical that we all work together to ensure that each and everyone has access to proper toilets for the benefit of all in terms of dignity and a healthy and safe environment for a healthy lifestyle. Proper toilets also ensure proper hygiene and promote hand-washing to prevent the spread of diseases.

As there are still a lot of people without proper toilets in the world, it is crucial that public toilets are well maintained and hygienic to ensure that people’s dignity is always maintained when using those public facilities. It is the responsibility of each individual to ensure that public toilet facilities are always clean to prevent the spread of germs and diseases.

The lack of proper toilets is deadly as we have experienced the loss of lives of learners in pit toilets in our country. Government, the public sector and communities need to come together and ensure that there are proper and safe toilets for our kids in rural schools. Everyone deserves a proper and safe toilet, irrespective of where he/she lives as we all deserve the same human dignity.

Governments must always prioritize the poor and most vulnerable in the provision of sanitation services to ensure that no individual lacks the basic requirement for a dignified and healthy life. Community members who are beneficiaries, on the other hand, must always take care and keep the facilities in good conditions for their own health and the health of the community. 

* Themba Khoza is the Department of Water and Sanitation, Mpumalanga Provincial Office Communications Manager responsible for all communications activities in the Mpumalanga Province.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.