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Hundreds share one toilet in Schlip

Ouma Katrina Garises and her dog make use of the same unhygienic toilet that previously belonged to the Evangelical Lutheran Church. The delapidated structure is situated about 200m from her house. (Photograph by Treasure Kauzuu)

Access to water and sanitation is still just a dream for many Namibians. For instance, in the Hardap region, close to 35% of households do not have toilets. The situation is worse in Schlip, a settlement situated about 130 km north-west of Mariental. Only a mere 1% of the 1500 people living in Schlip have access to sanitation. Ouma Katrina Garises (77) hopes that one day she will own a toilet in her yard, a toilet that she will not be forced to share.

She is one of the 99% of the population at the settlement who has to make use of the open fields when nature calls.  Now Ouma Katrina and many others make use of a very unhygienic toilet that previously belonged to the Evangelical Lutheran Church. The toilet is situated about 200 m from her house. “Since, I sustained injuries to my leg in 2011 it has been hard for me to walk to the veld to relief myself. Now I am forced to use this unhygienic toilet. It is very unsafe to use it, especially at night. I want a toilet at my house,” she said. The absence of ablution services at the Schlip settlement is a clear indication of the level of poverty and the poor quality of life of the population in general. In order to address the situation, the Desert Research Foundation of Namibia in collaboration with the Hardap Regional Council, the Ministry of Health and Social Services and the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry’s Directorate of Water Supply and Sanitation Coordination, formulated a new pro-active project under the title “A Pro-Poor Approach to Address Sanitation and Hygiene Challenges in the Schlip Settlement in the Hardap Region”. The overall objective is to improve the health and wellbeing of the population in Schlip through access to appropriate, safe and dignified sanitation and to help the community to develop capacity to sustain a healthy and hygienic environment. Funded by the European Union through the Civil Society Foundation of Namibia, the project aims at constructing 20 toilets amounting to almost N$650,000 over the next 12 months. Hon Riaan McNab, councillor of the Rehoboth Rural Constituency said that the project is aligned to the National Sanitation Strategy of 2010-2015, with special emphasis on community education and participation in hygiene and sanitation as well as the construction of sanitation systems. Speaking at a workshop held recently in Mariental to introduce the project to various stakeholders at the regional and local level, McNab said that the project will contribute to the realisation of the right to health. “You will agree with me that one indicator of poverty is the general quality of life and access to basic amenities such as water and sanitation. The project will contribute to the realisation of the right to health by creating an enabling environment for safe disposal of human excreta and the adoption of hygienic practices in Schlip,” he said. The Rehoboth rural constituency has the highest proportion of households with no toilet facilities averaging 50% of the total population.

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