By Amy Agnew, Amnesty International campaigner on Africa.
“So you’re telling me that someone working in the industrial area earns 150 Kenyan shillings a day… and it costs 5 Kenyan shillings each time you use one of the community toilets? So if you have a family of seven people who go to the toilet five times a day, that means that you are spending 175 Kenyan shillings purely on going to the toilet.”
Facilitator of a feedback and consultation workshop , Nairobi, 10 July 2010.
Communities in slums and non-governmental organisations have built community toilets for residents. However, with an average cost of 5 Kenyan shillings for each usage, these facilities are in reality inaccessible for the very people they have been built for.
“For me, peeing in a container and throwing the waste onto the street is as normal as throwing a banana skin behind me once I’m done with it.”
Resident of Mukuru Kwa Njenga, feedback and consultation workshop held in Mukuru Kwa Njenga, Nairobi, 10 July 2010.
The statistics conclude that up to 68% of slum residents in Nairobi rely on shared toilet/latrine facilities, and that up to 6% have no toilet facilities at all. Only 24% of Nairobi’s slum residents have access to toilets at household level.
The shortage of toilets in slums exacerbates women’s insecurity and heightens the risk of gender-based violence.
This situation has come about as a result of a number of factors linked to decades of government failure to recognize slums and settlements for city planning purposes. In addition, the government has failed to enforce relevant laws, such as those requiring landlords to ensure access to sanitation at the household level.
At the third of five workshops being held by Amnesty International in various slums in Nairobi, women shared ideas on how to address this dire situation in terms of their access to toilets and places to wash. They spoke from the heart when they described their situations and the indignity that they suffer in finding alternatives to using toilets. They are committed to campaigning to ensure that the government does not deny them their rights and pretend they don’t exist.