By Grace Okwisa  

World Toilet Day annually celebrates access to toilets and raises awareness of the 4.2 billion people living without access to safely managed sanitation. It is about taking action to tackle the global sanitation crisis and achieve Sustainable Development Goal 6: water and sanitation for all by 2030.

This year the theme remarks the importance of “Sustainable sanitation and climate change”. Climate change is accelerating. Flood, drought, and rising sea levels are threatening sanitation systems – from toilets to septic tanks to treatment plants.

Toilets can help us to fight climate change too! Wastewater and sludge from toilets contain valuable water, nutrients, and energy. Sustainable sanitation systems make productive use of waste to safely boost agriculture and reduce and capture emissions for greener energy.

This year’s celebration is different with the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Rather than celebrations, WASH Alliance Kenya with funding from UNICEF conducted follow up in Konjora 1 sub-location of Kilifi County.

 We are grateful to WASH Alliance Kenya and UNICEF for this project. We are hopeful that this time round, our Sub-Location will be certified Open Defecation Free.  Said Ali, the coordinator of CHVs.

Konjora 1 had first been triggered in 2011 and later did not pass certification to be Open defecation Free (ODF).  In 2012, CHVs led by Ali re-triggered the village again and still they did not become ODF.

Ali says it’s now nine years down the line but he still has the passion for his people to become ODF. He says they have learnt from their challenges and this time round, they will achieve ODF status.

Poor sanitation further costs the east African nation an estimated 27 billion shillings each year (US$324 million) – equivalent to US$8 per person per year or 0.9 percent of the national GDP.

“As such, on this World Toilet Day and on other days to come, we reinforce our commitment to sanitation and hygiene not only in Konjora 1 but Kilifi County as a whole.” Aggrey Gad, Wash alliance project officer said.

Achieving universal access to adequate sanitation and end the practice of open defecation (OD) by 2030 is on the list of U.N. Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), but there is a risk that the world could miss this target if efforts are not accelerated to educate communities.

Through this project, Wash Alliance Kenya hopes to move 258 villages (2 sub-Counties) in Kilifi County from open defecation to open defecation free by end of May 2021