When I was in Kenya I had a rude awakening when we traveled to rural areas. There were not very many places for us to use the bathroom unless we wanted to go in the bush or if we wanted to use one of the local latrines. Now, when we were at the hotels and restaurants, using the bathroom was like being at home, but the rural areas were a different scenario altogether.
On the first day in Kisumu, in the western part of Kenya, I was forced to choose between using a latrine or waiting to get to a local hospital to relieve myself. I walked to the latrine with a few of the other moms and upon stepping in I could barely breathe and I almost hurled. The latrine smelled entirely of feces and urine and I absolutely could not force myself to use the bathroom there. While it was one of the more sanitary latrines I would encounter during our time in rural Kenya I had to really time my bathroom visits. It was then that I realized that something has to be done about sanitation in areas that need it in Kenya. Sanitation, in fact, is a problem in many developing countries.
The lack of sanitary latrines in countries around the world is serious business and the lack of sanitation claims the lives of thousands of people every year. There were also bags of feces all over Kibera, the largest slum in Kenya, where cholera breaks out frequently. Sanitation problems lead to diarrhea and parasites. It is vital to get this problem under control in order to save people from sickness and death.
Today through the rest of the week is World Toilet Day. This initiative is to spotlight how important it is to get sanitation under control. I saw it first hand. There is good news, though. According to this article, Sanitation: Cholera and the Super-loo, in the Economist some universities with the help of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are coming up with smart ways to manage sanitation issues in developing nations. What is needed now? More investments in sanitation as well as smart ideas to solve the sanitation problem.
On the Net: toiletday.org