How often do you fear for your safety when using a toilet?
For many, going to the toilet or accessing clean drinking water might seem like the most fundamental of service provisions and rights, but it is routinely denied to half a million people living in the City of Cape Town’s informal settlements.
Residents currently have to share one toilet amongst thirteen households (despite the law regulating five per household), and toilets are often dysfunctional, poorly maintained, unhygienic, unsafe and very sparsely located.
The SJC has conducted interviews with the Khayelitsha community, during which the issue of sanitation rates overwhelmingly as the primary concern with regards to safety. The simple act of using a toilet at night has become a life threatening activity, with people frequently attacked, raped, robbed and murdered on the often long and hazardous walk to relieve oneself. Women and children are particularly affected, but no one is exempt from the ubiquitous risk and fear.
The poor quality and under supply of toilets also results in enormous public health complications, including the spread of waterborne diseases and parasites such as gastroenteritis, worms and diarrhoea. The latter is currently one of the leading causes of death for children under five in Khayelitsha.
We have the power to contribute – in a small yet very significant way – to breaking the cycle of violent crime, and our fight starts with calling on government to ensure that basic sanitation is provided to all in Khayelitsha by October 2011.
We will not sit by while 20% of the City suffers. We will stand strong for sanitation, safety, and dignity.
The “Queue”: What is it and how will it work?
A global campaign is being held around the world from 20 – 22 March, which will involve participants symbolically queuing behind a toilet in solidarity with the 2.5 billion people globally who do not have immediate access to safe and dignified toilets. In doing so, participants will attempt to set a Guinness world record for the world’s longest queue for a toilet (albeit numerous queues on different continents). It has been organised to coincide with World Water Day. In South Africa the event falls over the Human Rights Day weekend, giving the event added significance
The SJC will be hosting one such event in Cape Town on the Sea Point Promenade (opposite the SABC studios) on Saturday 20 March at 10h00, to draw attention to both the international initiative and the challenges faced by residents in South Africa’s informal settlements.
Participants from across the city will form a queue outside one of Sea Point’s public toilets. These are cleaned and maintained regularly and often provide security personnel for safety. This is in stark contrast to Khayelitsha’s public toilets which are sparsely located and never cleaned, or provided with the luxuries of toilet paper nor a basic toilet seat. Inside these toilets will be a an exhibit of photos of sanitation facilities in Khayelitsha, mock ups of existing sanitation provisions, and an opportunity to sign a petition calling on the City to provided improved levels of service.
What can you do?
- JOIN THE QUEUE ON 20 MARCH 2010!
- Invite others to join the queue, via Facebook or word of mouth.
- Sign the petition on the SJC website.
- If you’ve been personally affected by crime or ill health due to inadequate sanitation facilities, please share your stories on the event wall or SJC group .
- Visit www.worldtoiletqueue.org to learn more about the international campaign.