Privacy in the loos

2015-06-04 06:00
Minister Nomvula Mokonyane, the minister of Water and Sanitation, Councillor Amos Komeni, of Ward 93, Nozuko Pikoko and Khayakazi Gatyeni (orange t-shirts) and other residents during the hand over of the toilets. Inset: are the toilets.


Minister Nomvula Mokonyane, the minister of Water and Sanitation, Councillor Amos Komeni, of Ward 93, Nozuko Pikoko and Khayakazi Gatyeni (orange t-shirts) and other residents during the hand over of the toilets. Inset: are the toilets. PHOTO: M

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Whenever residents of informal settlements respond to the call of nature to relieve themselves, they have to go to the bush or the open veld, and have to contend with the elements, including being stripped of their collective dignity and humanity.

But that may soon become a thing of the past if a pilot project for sewage systems spearheaded by the Minister of Water Affairs and Sanitation has its way.

Minister Nomvula Mokonyane, officiated at a handing over ceremony for what is called alternative toilets at BM-section.

Ironically called Project Piss or Piloting Interim Sanitation Solution, it was launched on Friday.

The pilot project is set to test the waters, so to speak, about new ways of improve sanitation in informal settlements and will be rolled out to other areas as soon as it gets the thumbs up from its users.

In partnership with the City of Cape Town, its was launched as part of celebrating the annual Sanitation and Hygiene month, May.

The Sanitation and Hygiene month is designed to raise the profile of sanitation and encourage local government and communities to prioritize sanitation, health and hygiene and further to highlight the work that the department does.

This includes ensuring that all citizens have access to sanitation.

Looking after sanitation facilities is advocated, communities are well informed of the need to practice good hygiene, such as washing of hands after using the toilet and before preparing food and that communities and stakeholders are well informed and updated of the progress made in sanitation provision and health and hygiene promotion programmes.

Mokonyane said the project will also curb the instances of harassment which women and children are particularly forced to endure when they walk the distance(to relieve themselves).

“It is going to improve lives of the people, reduce rape and abuse of women and children.

It will also minimise the contamination. We expect feedback on whether residents are comfortable with the solution and we will then expand to other provinces.”

The flushing toilets will be open 24 hours a day and will be stocked with toilet papers.

The pilot project has already received praise from potential users.

Siphokazi Soya,25, was one of the first residents to witness the instalment of the toilets.

“They are going to make a big difference here.

We have been forced to use plastic buckets at night, because we were scared of walking to the toilets which are far from our shacks.

We could not let children go alone to toilets, because there are children who have been raped going to the distant toilets.

It was a big risk. I am happy now.”

The pilot project has also been introduced in Durban, in KwaZulu Natal and the department is still closely monitoring its progress and usefulness.

Councillor Amos Komeni, of Ward 93, said the pilot project is a step in the right direction.

“We are fine with the intervention, because it is going to help residents here. Toilets were far from households. This will also improve the safety of people,” Komeni said.

The handover of the toilets has also created job opportunities for two residents.

Nozuko Pikoko and Khayakazi Gatyeni are expected to keep the facilities in prim and proper condition.

Pikoko said they will do their outmost best to teach residents to keep the toilets clean and promote hygiene.

“As a resident here, I am very happy for us. We will ensure that we keep the toilets clean to avoid the bad smell,” Pikoko said

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