Campaigning for the 'dignity of children', Anele Mdoda ramps up support to eradicate pit latrines

Media personality Anele Mdoda is on a mission to help eradicate pit latrines at schools. (Getty Images/Gallo Images)
Media personality Anele Mdoda is on a mission to help eradicate pit latrines at schools. (Getty Images/Gallo Images)

"Having a decent toilet at school matters."

This is how TV and radio presenter Anele Mdoda describes her motivation to join household brand Domestos in their campaign to build toilets at schools that currently use pit latrines.

Last year, President Cyril Ramaphosa launched the Sanitation Appropriate for Education (SAFE) initiative in an attempt to rid schools of pit latrines.

On World Toilet Day last year - observed on November 19 - Mdoda launched a crowdfunding initiative, in partnership with the brand, that raised R1.1m to build new toilets at one school.

Thembalethu Primary School in Lusikisiki, the Eastern Cape, would have their 17 new toilets handed over to the school towards the end of July, Mdoda explained.

"It was when little Lumka Mkhethwa, 5, drowned in a pit latrine that I decided something needs to be done," Mdoda told News24.

She revealed how she was emotionally touched by the incident, saying "we are protecting the dignity of schoolchildren".

Mitigating the ripple effects

She said a lot of "ripple effects" were mitigated by having proper toilets in schools.

"Proper toilets go hand in hand with clean sanitation, which goes hand in hand with reducing infections and deaths that may occur," Mdoda explained. 

During his 2019 Budget speech, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni said he had been given a directive from the president to ensure that all schools have safe and appropriate sanitation, with the education department saying it hoped to eradicate pit latrines within the next three years.

'I will nag and beg'

While the brand's ambition is to build toilets at 20 schools (valued at over R20m), Mdoda pledged to raise R2.2m, which will be enough to build toilets at two of the 20 schools this year with the help of corporate entities and the South African public.

"My target is to have the R2.2m raised and toilets built by December this year. I'll nag and beg if I have to," Mdoda said with a chuckle. 

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