World Toilet Day stinker: Millions relieve themselves in the open

Toilets at Lirhembe Primary School in Kakamega County as at May 2019. [File, Standard]

World Toilet Day is celebrated annually on November 19 to raise awareness of the important role toilets play in our society.

While the little rooms set at the furthest corners of our homes may be deemed as essential, United Nations says that 673 million people still practise open defecation.

According to the World Health Organization, 4.2 billion people live without access to safely- managed sanitation. 

Factors such as drought, rising sea levels and floods, are a threat to sanitation systems which includes toilets, septic tanks and even treatment plants.

United Nations notes that floods can cause damage to toilets and as a result spread human waste into communities and food crops and this could lead to deadly and chronic diseases.

United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) says that clean water, basic toilets and good hygiene practices are essential for the survival of children.

The international body estimates that close to 5 million Kenyans still practice open defecation. 

This approximately 10 per cent of the nation’s population. Open defecation is common among the rural populations since most homes do not have toilets.

According to a 2018 report by Kenya Integrated Household Budget Survey (KIHBS), close to 70 per cent of the population in some counties did not have toilets.

Samburu, Turkana, Marsabit, West Pokot and Kwale were some of the counties with a bad record of toilet access among their population.

Some of the counties that recorded good access to toilet facilities include Nairobi, Kisii, Nyeri, Kakamega, Nyamira and Vihiga.

In another report titled Realising Open Defecation Free Rural Kenya 2018: Achievements and the Road Ahead released in 2018 by UNICEF, up to 13, 328 villages were free to open defecation.

The report also showed that 79 per cent of open defecation took place in 13 counties. Even though this number seemed higher, in 17 counties less than 1 per cent of their population practised open defecation. ?