As World Toilet Day was celebrated around the globe, South Africans were met with the shocking realisation that more people have access to cellphones in the country than toilets.
According to the latest figures from Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) while 93.6% of South African households have a cellphone a startling 45.6% of households do not have a toilet inside their dwelling and less than 50% have a toilet outside of their property.
Of the remaining 75.5% of people with access to “adequate sanitation” 12.2% have pit latrines, and 60.6% are connected to a sewerage system.
A global crisis
While these figures might at first seem shocking the reality is that they are representative of the larger sanitation crisis affecting the world.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), around 60% of the global population, or 4.5 billion people, either have no toilet at home or one that doesn’t safely manage excreta.
Even more alarming is that 862 million people worldwide still practise open defecation. This means human faeces, on a massive scale, is not being captured or treated which could be detrimental to public health as well as living and working conditions.
The UN notes that world is not on track to reach Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG 6) which seeks to ensure availability and sustainable management of sanitation and water for all by 2030. This year the organisation hopes that we can look to nature-based solutions to try and help solve the problem through its World Toilet Day campaign entitled : When Nature Calls.
Meanwhile the sanitation story in South Africa’s development is not all doom and gloom. According to Stats SA the percentage of South African households that have access to improved sanitation increased from 61.7% in 2002 to 82.2% in 2017.