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Greg Dorey


Part of UK in Ethiopia

23rd November 2015

Hygienic sanitation would avoid unnecessary deaths

Poor sanitation threatens everyone’s health. It is sad to hear that an astonishing 2.4 billion people throughout the world do not have access to a toilet and have to practice open defecation.
November is considered a very special month in Ethiopia regarding sanitation. I’m sure that visitors would have observed the sky over Addis full of smoke on 21/22 November. This event is known as ‘Hidar Sitaten’ – Clean November. I am told that this is related to an awful outbreak of disease some 90 years ago in Addis that took nearly 40,000 lives, 9,000 deaths happening in just a month. It was then that the decision of cleaning neighborhoods by collecting rubbish and burning it came into practice to prevent any repeat of this catastrophe.
By coincidence, it was World Toilet Day this week – another day focused on sanitation. This day is marked globally to help raise awareness about the people in the world who do not have access to a toilet despite the basic right to have clean water and sanitation. It is extremely worrying that only 44% of Ethiopia’s population – and only 25% of Addis Ababa dwellers – have access to a toilet.  Lack of proper toilet facilities increases the risk of disease and malnutrition, especially for women and children. Women and girls risk rape and abuse when they have no toilet that offers privacy.
I am grateful for the exemplary works some nongovernmental organizations have done by taking the initiative to clean up places (like in Megenagna Taxi Terminal) and turning them into green areas and proper public toilets. But often signs saying ‘Meshnat Kilkil new’ – ‘Urinating is Forbidden’ – on the fences of some residences and business centres in Addis are being blatantly ignored. The government of Ethiopia needs to consider working to raise public awareness of the importance of sanitation and also to increase the number of toilets facilities available to the public.

1 comment on “Hygienic sanitation would avoid unnecessary deaths

  1. What his excellency raised with regards to hygiene and sanitation is an issue that should be taken seriously by government and communities in Addis. As many migrants, looking for work, are flowing to Addis, the city has become dirtier than ever. The migrants are used to open air defecation. Educating incoming migrants to Addis could help in addition to building more clean toilets. It is also important that there should be sanitation policing personnel in areas with high concentration of people.

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