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Concerted efforts vital for improved sanitation

Concerted efforts vital for improved sanitation

By extension, this sorry spectacle translates to a 73.6m/- annual loss to the State. The loss takes in the time lost when people look for secluded places to relieve themselves, the costly medical fight when epidemics break out, contamination of water sources and many others.

To get rid of this monumental problem and the attendant losses the nation needs to build about one million toilets or drop holes. In fact, the economic impact is likely to be underestimated in connection with the true cost of the current sanitation situation. The scenario involves the possibility of additional costs that are more difficult and expensive to estimate.

These include epidemic outbreak costs where in the case of cholera faecal contamination is the cause of an annual average of 5,800 cases costing about 6.08m/- a year.

Diseases associated with  unsanitary conditions prevail mostly in congested places where squatters, people mainly the poor, live in filthy conditions with no clean piped water. Unfortunately, unsanitary conditions are often the source of numerous fast killer diseases such as cholera, dysentery and typhoid which, invariably, erupt where communities do not have good pit latrines, toilets or lavatories.

It is encouraging, therefore, to hear that three years from now nearly 20 million Tanzanians will have access to decent sanitary and hygienic facilities, thanks to a generous funding initiative of 7.5bn/- by the Global Sanitation Fund (GSF). The scheme will save thousands of lives. The situation is worse in rural areas where most villagers either have poor latrines or none at all.

At the moment the status of the country’s sanitation stands at unsatisfactory 24 per cent. The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare has secured 20million US dollars from the African Development Bank (ADB) for a four-year national sanitation and hygiene campaign which seeks tackling the problems arising from poor sanitation.

The campaign will also improve sanitation, toilets and hand washing facilities at household and public places particularly in schools and health facilities. This is a noble crusade indeed. But sanitation efforts will only bear fruits if clean water is provided. We are aware that the nation has numerous water projects in various stages of implementation but some have stalled.

Inadequate access to safe water and sanitation services, coupled with poor hygiene, kills hundreds of children every day, all of which have a bearing on the socio-economic development of the country. Poor sanitation, water and hygiene have many other serious repercussions. Children – and particularly girls – are denied their right to education because their schools lack decent sanitation facilities, a problem that has been mentioned in Parliament several times.

Rural women, especially those in Dodoma, Singida, Tabora and Rukwa, are forced to spend large parts of their day fetching water. Poor farmers and wage earners are less  productive due to illness, health systems are overwhelmed. Authorities should be aware that without water, sanitation and hygiene, sustainable development is impossible.

It is our hope that the GSF initiative will serve as a wakeup call for responsible authorities on this matter. It is unthinkable that 50 years after Independence over 75 per cent of the Tanzanians still lacks improved sanitation facilities and that most people use unsafe drinking water sources. It is high time to correct the situation and everyone has role to play.

 

Transparency is the way forward

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Author: EDITOR

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