November 19 is World Toilet Day. South Africa has been talking a lot about toilets recently. In Cape Town, unenclosed toilets in Khayalitsha caused a political furore. In Durban, the city has been rolling out dry toilets and is now planning to incentivise people to use them.
Toilets are important. They don't only provide privacy and comfort, they are also crucial to stopping the spread of disease. Cholera spreads because of the lack of proper sanitation. So do many, many other diseases. The stats are staggering: 2.6 billion people do not have proper toilets and sanitation. That is nearly half the world population. Diarrheal diseases (spread mostly by poor sanitation) kill 5000 children every day. Children living in households with no toilet are twice as likely to get diarrhoea as those with a toilet.
The sitaution in South Africa is not so rosy either. In 2007 only 60% of households nationally had access to a flush toilet (Community Survey 2007). More than 50% of households in Limpopo still using a pit latrine without ventilation, and 25,2% of households in Eastern Cape had no toilet at all.