DRC sanitation standards get elevated

Niël Terblanché

The community of the DRC informal settlement in Swakopmund has been working hard to improve sanitation and by default, health standards in their neighbourhood.

The efforts by community-based organisations follow short on the heels of a recent report by the World Health Organization and UNICEF’s Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) 2020 data that states Namibia is one of the worst countries in the world regarding rates of open defecation.

According to the report, more than 40 percent of Namibians, about one million people do not have access to proper toilet facilities and the negative trend is getting worse.

The study found that the situation is exceptionally dire in the various informal settlements where people have no choice but to use open spaces often without any privacy.

However, the community of the DRC has taken matters into their own hands and their efforts are slowly but surely contributing to lift all residents of the rapidly growing informal settlement out of unsanitary conditions.

The municipality of Swakop in April handed land ownership certificates to more than 800 residents of certain areas of the DRC who qualify for the privilege and the construction of six new sanitary stations forms part of the total upliftment of communities that do not have adequate toilet facilities.

The Mayor of Swakopmund, Dina Namubes, officiated at the handover of recently completed sanitation facilities and said poor sanitation has major negative impacts on the health and the environment. It is known to cause diseases and ill health and also pollute the environment.

“Poor hygienic practices have an acute influence on the transmission of diseases. This is especially prevalent in contributing conditions such as overcrowding, lack of water and approved sanitation facilities and a lack of knowledge on the impact of poor hygienic practices in our daily lives and in the activities guiding the livelihood of communities,” she said.

According to the mayor, the result of bad personal hygiene practices often leads to exposure to diseases and unwanted illnesses.

The mayor stated that the community should be aware that the six new sanitation centres will only be a temporary solution to the open defecation problem in the DRC.

“Council recently began the process of the signing of ownership certificates which will ensure residents of DRC and Wagdaar become land and homeowners. As a result, they will have access to water and electrical services, which would allow residents to construct their own latrines in the future,” she said.

Namubes pointed out that the process of transferring ownership to residents will take some time and those better and more private sanitation facilities will be the eventual result.

“In the meantime, the Town Council will continue to develop and implement strategies to improve sanitation services in our communities, especially in our informal settlements,” the mayor promised.

Before officially handing over the newly constructed facilities, Namubes urged the beneficiaries to take responsibility and good care of the new sanitation centres.

“Let us maintain the sanitation of our surroundings in order to avoid diseases as a result of pollution,” she implored.

The new facilities consist of a male and female toilet as well as a kiosk which will be operated by, maintained, and kept clean by a community member selected by the community leaders in DRC.

The kiosk between the two bathrooms is intended to accommodate a potential future business or to house security guards in order to reduce unwanted activities within the community as well as vandalism of each of the new facilities.

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