Sanitation in general refers to hygiene and the provision of facilities to dispose of human excretory waste,solid waste and waste water.Lack of sanitation creates a breeding ground for the spreading of diseases.
Rural populations of developing countries are often the worst affected by lack of proper sanitation means with statistics showing that at least 50% of these populations still do not have access to basic sanitation( WHO 2004).
Box: Sanitation Related Diseases
The following diseases can largely be prevented with basic sanitation and hygiene:
Diarrhoea causes an estimated two million deaths per year, mostly among children under the age of five.
Cholera - as of September(2001) there were 106,547 reported cases of cholera and a total of 3,155 reported deaths in 2002
Schistosomiasis (bilharzia) infects 200 million people,of which 20 million people suffer severe consequences. Improved water and sanitation may reduce it by 77%.
Trachoma causes blindness in 6-9 million people.Access to sanitation may reduce it by 25%.
Intestinal worms infect about a third of the population in developing countries; improved sanitation would control their transmission.
Hookworms cause malnutrition. Using concrete slabs tocover pit latrines can prevent them from being transmitted to humans.
Adapted from WHO/UNICEF, Global Water Supply and Sanitation Assessment, 2000
Gender and Sanitation
In most communites, women are responsible for hygiene in the home.The lack of sanitation facilities often means they are denied an opportunity to education and income generation activities,this is especially the case in rural communities where women spend a lot of their time doing household chores and collecting water,often from long distances. Similairly an improvement in sanitation translates positively for women as direct users of water.
In these same communities, women are often not involved in public decision making forums--an integrated approach to water and sanitation empowering woman and girls is needed for sanitation efforts to be successful and sustainable.
WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme
The Joint Monitoring Programme on Water and Sanitation is an initiative by the WHO and UNICEF agencies to produce reports on the current status and trends in 209 countries towards reaching the improved access water and sanitation target of the MDG.
The aim of this report is to provide trusted,usable and standard information for nation states .Careful consideration is given to the pameters to report , factors affecting them and which stanadard to apply. This document aims at assisting policy makers, governments, parastals,non-government agencies,and international organizations on where to focus their efforts on improving sanitation.
Millenium Development Goals
One of the targets of the Millenium development goals(no.7) as part of ensuring environmental sustainability is to reduce by half the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water and sanitation by 2015.
Currently this target does not seem likely in view of the most recent statistics gathered on access to sanitation across the globe.In 2008, 2.6 billion people around the world remained without access to improved sanitation and only a growth of seven percent was recorded between 1990 and 2008.(UNDP 2010).Serious efforts will have to be made to meet even half of the desired numbers by the year 2015.
For statistics on improved sanitation in the Orange Senqu River basin states refer to the Health Indicators in people and the river section.