Disposing of human waste has become a part of her life because she must empty the bucket when it is full of human excreta and she should wash it (the bucket) so as to use it again when nature calls.
The bucket system is synonymous with many villages and settlements in the //Karas Region, much to the dismay and frustration of many residents, who have over the years complained about the health hazards the toilets pose through a demeaning system from the apartheid era.
Sixty-five-year-old Magdalena Boois, a resident of the sleepy settlement of Kosis, says the bucket toilet system has been a health hazard for many years but she and her family have no choice but to use the toilet instead of the nearby bushes, especially during the night when it very unsafe.
She says the toilets usually overflow and give off a bad smell if the buckets are not collected on time and thus she has started doing it herself, by disposing of the human waste into the veld far from the houses.
“I have decided to throw away the waste by myself and then clean the bucket so that we can use it again,” she said.
Boois says the good news is that the government plans to get rid of the bucket system once and for all and she hopes it’s done in the fastest of time possible.
The situation of residents of the settlement maintaining the bucket toilets themselves is common and it’s especially more so when more people flock to the area.
Lucia Boorstandert tells New Era what a headache it was when mourners gathered at her house for a funeral recently, stating that she had to dispose of human waste from time to time due to the number of people using the toilet constantly.
She further says she had to clean the bucket about three or four times a day so that people could use it, but she did this without protective gear and she says this could affect her health as she is a TB patient.
“I had to empty the bucket and wash it with my bare hands; I don’t have any gloves but I didn’t have a choice, people had to use the toilet,” she stated.
Boorstandert is also hopeful that government can keep their promise to eliminate the system as soon as possible.
President Hage Geingob during the launch of his audacious Harambee Prosperity Plan (HPP) indicated that government aims to build 50 000 rural toilets in the next four years and eliminate the bucket system by next year.
Anna Joseph welcomed the news, saying that the bucket toilets are inhumane and have become unbearable, adding that people are opting to instead use the bush when nature calls.
Porottia Lambert echoed Joseph’s sentiments, saying she feels happy and very relieved that her community will finally get the toilets they deserve and kick out the bucket system permanently, but she says she hopes that it won’t be long before the plan is put to work.
“I hope that it comes as soon as possible because we are tired of the bucket system,” she stated.
Berseba resident Lydia Herero is also thankful that the system will finally phase out, but she says the new toilets should be built in the houses, so that elderly people who have problems with movement due to certain reasons have easy access to the toilets.