World Toilet Day: Gauteng sanitation situation needs urgent intervention

Janet Semple MPL

Spokesperson on Housing

Today is World Toilet Day, an important day drawing attention to the plight of 2.5 billion people across the world without access to a safe, adequate, clean and private toilet.

In Gauteng, approximately 1.4 million people living in shacks in informal settlements or backyards across the province do not have access to flushing toilets, this according to Census 2011 data.

The majority, or 57%, have to rely on non-flushing toilets of various forms. This includes 3.77% who have no access to a toilet at their residence and 7.79% who still use the bucket system. For example, there are still people in Kliptown, where the historic Freedom Charter was signed, using the inhumane and degrading bucket system.

A significant number of households in Johannesburg and Ekurhuleni are still using this unhygienic and inhumane system, a breakdown per municipality is as follows:

Municipality Household bucket toilets
Sedibeng  3 023
West Rand  4 743
Ekurhuleni 23 594
Johannesburg 28 648
Tshwane 9 071
Total 69 079

According to the World Toilet Day campaign the humble toilet can be a stepping stone to a healthy life, greater human dignity, freedom, equality between women, men, girls and boys, and finally, a catalyst to the development of communities and countries.
Bucket toilets and other forms of inadequate sanitation are a serious affront to the dignity of the people of Gauteng and a slap in the face of the hard won rights and freedoms contained in the Bill of Rights.

World Toilet Day serves as a reminder that much more needs to be done to ensure that the people of Gauteng can develop to their full potential.

The DA calls on the MEC to face reality and prioritise adequate sanitation instead of sanitising responses on the unacceptable toilet facilities people are still forced to use.