Monday 12 April 2021
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A toilet is more important than a foodbank

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) on November 6 2018 carried an unusual news item about Bill Gates. The item was not about the fact that Bill Gates is the second richest man on Earth. It was not about Microsoft and its products.
The BBC news reader told the listeners: “… Bill Gates brandishes poop to showcase reinvented toilet technology.”
Bill Gates was speaking in Beijing at the Reinventing Toilet Expo. The Toilet Expo showcased new off-grid sanitation products and systems which could drastically reduce the global human and economic toll of unsafe sanitation.
A range of companies from around the world displayed a new class of sanitary solutions that eliminate harmful pathogens and convert waste into by products like clean water and fertilizers.
The new disruptive sanitation technologies do not require sewers or water-lines.
During his speech Gates produced a container with human waste to introduce the availability of the world’s first pathogen-killing reinvented toilets and a small- scale waste treatment plants, called omni-processors. He informed his audience that these technologies were available for sale to municipalities and private entities.
He further talked about the City-Wide Inclusive Sanitation which could provide people with safely managed sanitation services.
Since 2011 the Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation invested US$200 million in the research and development of Reinvented Toilet Technologies.
In Beijing The Foundation announced a further investment of US$200 million to support research and development to help bring down the costs of new sanitation for the poor.
At the Reinvented Toilet Expo, the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and the African Development Bank announced commitments to invest US$2-5 billion.
The French Development Agency committed US$683 million to sanitation work globally by 2022. UNICEF announced an ambitious new sanitation market-shaping strategy to help scale up and deploy the products and services and to increase private sector engagement.
In 1996 Singaporean businessman, Jack Sim established the Rest Room Association of Singapore.
The Association promotes sound sanitary and public health policies. Since the founding of his organisation he organised 17 World Toilet Summits and two World Toilet Expos.
Through his campaigns the United Nations General Assembly adopted 19 November as World Toilet Day. Worldwide Mr Jack Sim is known as Mr Toilet.
He has raised awareness of the neglected crisis of sanitation affecting 2.6 billion people on Mother Earth!
UNICEF studies show that more than half of the world’s 4.5 billion people continue to live without access to safely managed sanitation.
In many of the cities in the global South, more than 50 percent of human waist escapes into the environment untreated. According to the UNICEF report of 2010 titled “Eliminating Open defecation in Namibia”, Namibia has one of the lowest sanitation coverage in Eastern and Southern Africa.
The report stated that 52 percent of the population is practicing open defecation. In the rural areas and informal urban settlements 1.4 million people do not have access to improved sanitation facilities.
For example, sanitation coverage in Northern Regions is very poor. In Ohangwena only 5 percent have access to safe sanitation, in Zambezi 9 percent, in Kavango 12 percent, in Omusati 15 percent and in Kunene 19 percent.
Generally speaking, in rural Namibia only 14 percent of households have access to improved sanitation. Countrywide 23 percent of schools are without functioning sanitation.
The Ombudsman’s Baseline Study Report of 2016 stated that Namibia’s sanitation remained unchanged and is in fact taking a nosedive.
The report concluded that the sanitation situation in the country was deplorable as a many of people are still using the bush to relieve themselves.
The Namibia Sanitation Strategy 2010-2015 is just collecting dust on the shelves of the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry.
Clearly there is a sanitation crisis in our country. Many of the deceases such as hepatitis B, diarrhoea and other communicable deceases are to be blamed on poor sanitation.
The cycle of the deceases could be stopped through improved sanitation.
Sanitation is a basic human need and a common public good. It does not make sense to dish out free food through Foodbanks and not provide the recipients with proper sanitation. Their dignity is compromised by open defecation.
Now, there is a window of opportunity to address this crisis. The Reinvented Toilet is the answer.
One needs just to contact UNICEF for information about the companies developing these technologies.
The companies will be happy to engage the Namibian government about its sanitation needs. Alternatively, government may wish to contact the Melinda and Gates Foundation for possible assistance.
The technologies to address the sanitation crisis are there. What is needed is the political will to engage the developers of these technologies and introduce them to municipalities throughout Namibia.
We should cure ourselves from a “decease” called miracle. Our sanitation crisis cannot be cured through miracles.
We must take initiative and give our people dignity through improved sanitation.

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