Aiming for an ODF County: Celebrating World Toilet Day in Tharaka Nithi

4.5 billion people globally live without a household toilet that safely disposes of their waste. World Toilet Day is about inspiring action to tackle the global sanitation crisis.

By 2030, the Sustainable Development Goals, specifically SDG #6, aim to reach everyone with sanitation, and halve the proportion of untreated wastewater and increase recycling and safe reuse. For that to be achieved, we need everyone’s poo to be contained, transported, treated and disposed of in a safe and sustainable way.

World Toilet Day 2017 continues the theme from World Water Day earlier this year, with the focus on wastewater. As part of this topic, we are asking the question, ‘Where does our poo go?’ For billions of people around the world, sanitation systems are either non-existent or ineffective. Poo gets out into the environment and spreads killer diseases, seriously undermining progress in health and child survival. Even in wealthy countries, treatment of wastewater can be far from perfect, leading to rivers and coastlines that cannot be safely fished in or enjoyed.In addition to the profound impact that improved sanitation has on health and living conditions, safely-managed wastewater has massive potential as an affordable and sustainable source of energy, nutrients and water.

If there’s one thing that unites humanity, it’s the call of nature. But depending on where we live, it’s not always possible to dispose of our bodily waste safely and responsibly.
To achieve SDG 6, we need everyone’s poo to take a 4-step journey:
• Containment. Poo must be deposited into a hygienic toilet and stored in a sealed pit or tank, separated from human contact.
• Transport. Pipes or latrine emptying services must move the poo to the treatment stage.
• Treatment. Poo must be processed into treated wastewater and waste products that can be safely returned to the environment.
• Disposal or reuse. Safely treated poo can be used for energy generation or as fertilizer in food production.

Tharaka Nithi County in Kenya has a population of 397,647 according to 2009 National census; administratively there are 15 wards, 63 locations, 164 sub locations, 1327 villages with 87,722 households. The sanitation coverage is at 72% with latrine coverage at 76% and latrine usage at 72.8%. According to a sanitation County benchmarking assessment conducted by the Ministry of Health in 2013, Tharaka Nithi County was ranked number 21 out of 47 counties .It was found to incur losses at the tune of 191 million KES each year due to poor sanitation .

This includes losses due to access time, premature death, health care costs and productivity. It was also established that 56.1% of children in Tharaka Nithi County are stunted, a condition that is strongly associated with poor sanitation. Today, the stunting is at 32.9% thus indicates work is being done (KDS 2014). This is an improvement though not sufficient.
This poor performance has since served as a wake-up call against which several commitments have been undertaken both by the CEC for health and the public health in view to reversing the worsening sanitation indicators across the county.

For instance, the county purposes to attain an open defecation free (ODF) status by the year 2017 among other enabling targets. However, inadequate capability in implementation of CLTS has perennially hindered the previous initiatives towards realizing an ODF county.

The County Government, Kenya Water and Sanitation Civil Society Network (KEWASNET), Plan International and Mabanda CLTS Group partnered to facilitate the WTD celebrations.In his speech during the celebrations, the Member of the County Executive Comittee for Health thanked all partners on making great efforts for organizing the event.He pledged that the County Governmnent  will continue working closely with the partners to ensure that the county has a proper health status adding that vision 2030 calls upon everyone  to uphold proper sanitation satandards as it is a stepping stone to improvimg and developing the counties economy.

He also emphasized on the need for public awareness on health issues and capacity building on proper use sanitation facilities by all, urging households to embrace use of toilets and condemning all those who are still not welcoming the innititiatives being made by the partners and health officers.

The director of Health, Tharaka Nithi County, John Mbugu stated that  World Toilet Day is a global event. he noted that Kenyas’ problems cannot be similar to those in the already developed countries,but we all are taking part to commemorate the day because we all understand its importance and relevance to our communities.’Our chore problem is the lack of toilets, we must work towards changing this.’ he added.  The Director also appreciated the efforts by the Nithi Community for upholding sanitation and as a result has led to reduction of cases of cholera/waterborn diseases.

The area CPHO stated that House holds in the County have the duty to uphold proper sanitation levels/status. ”As a community we must ensure that we have constructed toilets within our households, we must also create awareness to others on the need for proper sanitation. As we enhance the sanitation levels in the rural areas we must not forget the urban areas as well such as markets and town centres that has a large population. We should take the initiative instead of waiting for health enforcement.”, he emphasized. The county public health office targets to attain 99% sanitation coverage by 2017 of which it is at 76%.


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