Toilet shame! Send to a friend Saturday, 28 May 2011 09:36 digg By Sylivester Ernest The Citizen Reporter Dar es Salaam. Tanzania has one of the worlds most inadequate human waste management systems, with the vast majority of people lacking decent toilets, according to surveys by some local and international organisations.Sewage disposal has not undergone meaningful development since 1999, leading to an alarming increase in the number of people answering the call of nature in the open.The organisations say the number of people lacking adequate sanitation is expected to increase further in the next four to five years. According to the Geneva-based Water Supply & Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSC), sanitation facilities are not considered to be of an acceptable standard when shared with other households, or open for public use. The Latrine Construction Guide issued by the Health and Social Welfare ministry in 2009 says a latrine of acceptable standards should have an impervious floor, wall height at least 1.8 metres, a roof and door. It is estimated that 76 per cent of the countrys population still has no reliable access to sanitation facilities that hygienically separate human waste from the environment, including peoples dwellings. That translates to between 30 million and 33 million Tanzanians resorting to unhygienic sanitation facilities such as bucket latrines, public or shared toilets and open pit latrines. The government admits that sanitation is inadequate and has outlined a number of strategies to reverse the trend by nearly 50 per cent by 2015. On the other hand, independent hygiene experts say there are huge disparities in access among urban and rural dwellers and nomadic communities, in which sanitation stands at 12 per cent. Through the ten-year National Environmental Health, Hygiene and Sanitation Strategy 2008-2017, the Health and Social Welfare ministry has outlined options for improving sanitation that include promotional, educational and participatory approaches and methods. Others are the reviewing of the National Sanitation and Hygiene Policy. Mr Eke Mwaipopo of Amka Consult of Dar es Salaam says improved sanitation is vital for human health and development since it is a key factor in countering pollution and faecal contamination, as well as improving the immediate environment of the household and that of the nation at large. He said 2.5 billion people, or about 40 per cent of the worlds population, do not have access to basic sanitation. The World Health Organisation says more than 2.2 million people, mostly in developing countries, die each year from diseases associated with poor water and sanitary conditions. The lack of access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene is the third most significant risk factor for poor health in developing countries with high mortality rates. In Tanzania, statistics show that only 23 per cent of the rural population has access to improved sanitation facilities and the national picture is not very good either, Mr Mwaipopo told The Citizen on Saturday yesterday. By late last year, the percentage of households in Tanzania with access to improved sanitation was around 24 per cent, with only 27 per cent of urban dwellers having access. The governments goal is to increase urban and rural accessibility to 45 per cent and 42 per cent, respectively, by 2015, which the Geneva-based Water Supply & Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSC), however, says is very ambitious. The council says if the current accessibility trend does not improve, national sanitation coverage will stagnate at 24 per cent for the next four years as it has been since 1990, adding that Tanzania has a remote chance of attaining the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) for sanitation of 62 per cent in 2015. Tanzania is not on track to reach the MDG target for sanitation. With the current stagnation, the target cant be achieved, notes the organisation in its 2010 accessibility status report.Regional Administration and Local Governments minister George Mkuchika said yesterday that the provision of quality sanitation in urban areas was being hindered by unplanned development. We know how big the problem on the ground is, so we have directed all local governments to work with other stakeholders to ensure that our people have access to clean water and sanitation of acceptable standards, he said. In 2005, the international NGO WaterAid estimated that addressing Tanzanias sanitation needs would need up to $520 million, which is about Sh780 billion in todays exchange rates. WaterAid said in a report last year that many households in rural areas do not have decent toilet, which are too expensive to build for most rural dwellers. Tanzania Water and Environmental Sanitation (Twesa) officials say Kibondo, Ngara, Shinyanga and Kasulu districts had the least decent toilets in the country. It attributes the shortcoming to cultural factors, poverty and lack of adequate sensitisation. The government has not been doing enough in sensitising and prioritising the need for improved sanitation. This is very clear in the relevant policy draft of 2009, said Mr Jofta Timanywa of Tanzania Water and Sanitation Network.