Today, communities in Africa are struggling with a lack of access to clean, hygienic sanitation facilities. To date, about 9.2 million Ugandans – about 77% of the population – do not have access to toilets or latrines, which compares poorly to what it was in 1960 while it was at 90%. This widespread lack of access to adequate sanitation is attributed to recent population growth and legislative inadequacies, and has become a major contributor to the 1.5 million children who die each year in Uganda due to illnesses. water. Most rural and urban slum dwellers still use rudimentary sanitation facilities that often give way to inclement weather, prompting people to practice open defecation. These poor conditions expose users, especially women, children and the disabled, to infections and diseases such as candida and urinary tract infections.
In the current state of affairs, communities are not proud of their toilets and adopt innovations in toilets and encourage innovations to consider different types of soil, the effects of climate change on infrastructure. sanitation and flood risks. people of the ongoing cost of building temporary solutions, but will eventually lead to the reduction of water contamination by the fecal sludge.
In response to this gloomy reality, I created Sanitation Africa Limited, a company designed to provide innovative toilet technologies and expand sanitation access by adopting a business model where the toilets are marketed as any other consumer product. Modeling my organization after a business rather than a non-profit purpose has allowed communities to more appropriately own their toilets, both literally and figuratively. And this sense of ownership has led to a more sustainable impact and a healthier life by bringing affordable and inclusive sanitation solutions to communities that would normally have access to adequate sanitation.
One of the main challenges we face is that of geological challenges, such as foldable soils and a high water table. These have a significant impact on the structural integrity of pit latrines and make access to sanitation difficult, particularly for communities with limited resources in landing sites, shanty towns and villages. in rural areas. In addition, the quality of multi-family sanitation facilities is difficult to maintain in terms of comfort, hygiene and health. We also lack funding and support from local and national governments, which has led to poor supervision and management of water and sanitation projects with sporadic short-term interventions starting and ending. stop before reaching their goal.
Despite these challenges, our market-based approach allowed us to spark youth interest in employment opportunities in the sanitation sector – young people started working as masons, craftsmen, bouncers, transporters, supervisors, research engineers, monitoring and evaluation managers, and sales and marketing associates. In addition, we dramatically increased school attendance in areas where we built SmartSan toilets through easier access to adequate sanitation. One of the main practices we advocate for reducing faecal-oral transmission is the regular washing of hands with soap, because we believe that when children are free from waterborne diseases, they will have a better chance of having a better future. attend school regularly and get better grades. Girls will also be able to go to school more regularly when they have access to decent toilets that will allow them to ensure their menstrual hygiene.
In the private sector, we are not aiming to compete with governments and development organizations, but rather work with them to play a central role in ensuring sustainable access to sanitation infrastructure across the country. all the countries. To accelerate the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals public-private partnerships need to be strengthened so that private sector actors can fill the gaps in the public industrial framework and make sanitation products sustainable and scalable for all.
Samuel Malinga is a young leader for the Sustainable Development Goals and founder of Sanitation Africa.