‘Flying Toilets’ a Health Hazard

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By Petronella Sibeene

WINDHOEK

Sanitation remains a great concern in the country’s informal settlements as many inhabitants resort to “flying toilets” in their moments of need, observed President Hifikepunye Pohamba.

Flying toilets are plastic bags slum dwellers usually use to relieve themselves after which they discard them onto the streets, alleys, ditches or even rooftops – anywhere out of sight. Out of sight, out of mind, it could be argued – but the toilets seldom remain out of sight.

According to President Pohamba, “Sanitation in the country needs to be looked at.

“When stomachs run and nature calls, people have plastics in their houses. During the night they dispose the waste,” he said.

The President says this method of human waste disposal contributes to a poor state of sanitation. The situation worsens during the rainy season when water forms nasty puddles that emit an offensive smell.

Heaps of tightly tied polythene bags adorn the roofs of some shanties, attracting swarms of flies. Some plastics burst upon landing, while others clog the drainage system – if any drainage system exists.

After rains dirty streams meander through the slums giving off a choking stench.

There is fear in most parts of the country’s informal settlements that the poor solid waste, drainage and wastewater management, in addition to poor excreta disposal and inadequate water supply might lead to high incidence of disease outbreaks.

The President made these remarks during a meeting with regional and local councillors of the Karas Region over the weekend.

It emerged during the meeting that most areas, especially village councils, face problems with informal settlements and lack of proper drainage systems.

In Keetmanshoop where the meeting was held, village secretary of Berseba, Thomas Dreyer, said about 80 percent of the residents use the bucket system, which is unhygienic.

“Only a very small portion of our residents have serviced land with the sewerage network which was laid way back in the late 1970s,” he said.

He added that the existing network is over 30 years old and in poor condition. The situation has been worsened by lack of expertise, like town planners, particularly at village councils.

In the case of Aroab, chairperson of the Aroab Council, Barthlomeus Rooi, acknowledged that the bucket system still exists in his area but the council has since last year been busy upgrading the sewerage system and has serviced 40 erven.

The bucket system and “flying toilets” are popular in informal settlements.

Government through the Ministry of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development embarked on a Build Together programme that has since seen the construction of hundreds of decent houses countrywide and the setting up of proper drainage systems.

“We are on course with this programme,” said Dreyer.

Apart from the N$1 million availed by the Government last year for the Build Together project, the village council also completed houses for the disabled and elderly people at a cost of N$800??????’??

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