19 November 2013

Sad Statistics on Sanitation, released on UN World Toilet Day

Today has been declared World Toilet Day by the UN. The aim is to highlight the lack of access to proper sanitation faced by many around the world. As the UN's website states:

"While a vast majority of the world's population has access to mobile phones, one third of humanity (2.5 billion people) do not have access to proper sanitation, including toilets or latrines... The lack of improved sanitation largely contributes to the fact that almost 2,000 children die every day from preventable diarrhoeal diseases...Lack of private toilets in schools is a major reason why girls do not continue their education once they enter puberty." 

The South African organisation, Equal Education, today released the results of their audit of sanitation at secondary schools in Tembisa, in Gauteng. Here are some of their findings:
  • At over half of the schools surveyed, it is commonplace for more than 100 boys or 100 girls to have to share a single working toilet.
  • In some schools, there are days where there are no functioning toilets for students to use.
  • No students reported having regular access to toilet paper or soap.
  • Many schools have broken or non-functioning taps; sometimes there is no water supply.  
  • Long lines at bathrooms keep students from class and bad smells from nearby toilets distract them in class.
  • One student said, “My dignity is not there anymore because of the dirty toilet I have to go to every day.”  
Equal Education has presented the findings of their audit to the education authorities in the area and has asked them to release a timeline for developing a plan to address the crisis. You can read Equal Education's full press release, with more details about both the findings, and ideas of what the plan should include, here, and also more about their sanitation campaign in general, here.

Equal Education has also produced infographics, based on their findings, which I have downloaded them from their facebook page to share them with you:

I would definitely recommend following Equal Education, either on facebook or twitter to keep up with their news. I had the opportunity to attend Public Hearings, held by Equal Education, in Cape Town, earlier this year. I wish there could be more organisations like this, advocating for quality, and equality, in education systems for children.

Thank you, Equal Education, for drawing our attention to this sad, and pressing issue on UN World Toilet Day. Wishing you much success in achieving improved access to sanitation for these students.

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