Lack of public toilets an issue of concern for citizens in Zimbabwe

By Wallace Mawire

On World Toilet Day, the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) has called upon the relevant authorities in Zimbabwe to ensure that there is greater access to toilets and adequate sanitation facilities around the country.

World Toilet Day is celebrated every year on 19 November. It is an opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of toilets in society and the need to address the global shortage of safe and functional toilets. It is also an opportunity for the public to take action towards resolving the global sanitation crisis by advocating for
increased investment of public and private resources into the construction of more toilets. Moreover, World Toilet Day serves as a reminder of the global commitment to Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG 6), which is sustainable sanitation.

The theme for World Toilet Day in 2021 is ‘Valuing Toilets.’ The theme emphasises how toilets are important to the collective wellbeing of society. The lack of access to toilets by some poses a threat to the
health of the general public since poor sanitation leads to the spread of waterborne diseases and contamination of drinking water sources. Ultimately, poor sanitation has the potential to overburden health care systems with patients suffering from avoidable waterborne diseases.

It is reported that despite the importance of toilets to public health, billions of people across the globe do not have access to proper toilets and other sanitation facilities. The United Nations (UN) estimates that over 700
children under five years old die from diarrhoea which is linked to poor sanitation. The UN estimates that over 2 billion people across the world drink contaminated water due to a lack of access to properly managed sanitation facilities.

It is added that the availability of adequate toilets is also essential for the protection of the fundamental right to human dignity. Everyone has a right to live a dignified life and this includes a life which is free from the dangers of a lack of access to safe and proper toilets, which include ill-health and death in some instances. Moreover, increased access to safe and functional toilets is vital because it will help achieve substantive equality.

According to the ZLHR, in Zimbabwe, many communities lack access to safe and functional toilets and this has created a sanitation crisis in the communities.   It is added that the state has a constitutional obligation to address the crisis by taking comprehensive steps to ensure access to adequate toilet facilities.

It is reported that the state actors have the duty to protect, promote and fulfil the fundamental rights which are entrenched in the Constitution of Zimbabwe.

ZLHR says that the need for adequate toilet facilities impacts a number of rights which include the right to human dignity, the right to life, the right to a clean environment, the right to access to health care and the right to equality.

It says that in light of this, the state has a duty to expedite the measures it has adopted to address the sanitation crisis in Zimbabwe. On the World Toilet Day, ZLHR has called upon, the public to join the rest of the world in calling for greater access to toilets and adequate sanitation facilities, the authorities to adopt comprehensive measures that are designed to address the dire shortage of safe and functional toilets in Zimbabwe, the authorities to expedite the steps that are being taken to increase access to toilets because public health depends on the availability of toilets and adequate sanitation facilities, the authorities to ensure access to adequate sanitation services because access to adequate toilets and related sanitation facilities is crucial for the protection of constitutional rights.

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