A national campaign to improve hygiene and sanitation in Tanzania was launched in Dar es Salaam on 3 November 2009.
It is the brainchild of Unicef and the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare. The national toilet campaign is known as Fyatua choo ushinde (Kiswahili words literally meaning “Click a toilet and win”).
Speaking at the function, the Unicef representative, Dr Abdulai Tinograh, said it is designed to mobilize all Tanzanians to participate in a robust national campaign to improve hygiene and sanitation in the society.
He said Tanzania needs sweeping changes in approaches towards sanitation and significant investments. These would make it achieve the sanitation Millennium Development Goals target of reducing by half the proportion of people living without access to basic sanitation by 2015, he noted.
He said a recent study found out that many schools do not have enough latrines and less than ten per cent of them in eight districts have functioning hand washing facilities.
”We have discovered that 90 per cent of children in these districts and probably in most areas of Tanzania use toilets, but do not have anywhere to wash their hands. Hence, they go back to classrooms with dirty hands which may make them sick,” he said.
Dr Tinograh said because of lack of water in school latrines some schoolgirls decide to leave them since they experience problems, especially during their menstruation periods.
He further said that the severity of the situation is reflected in the fact that between 60 and 80 per cent of all hospital attendances are cases related to poor sanitation, hygiene and inadequate water supply.
With over 1.7 million incidents of diarrhoea occurring annually in Tanzania it is small wonder that it is the fourth leading cause of morbidity and mortality among children after malaria, anaemia and pneumonia, he said.
He noted that while the majority of Tanzanians have access to some type of toilets there is continual need to improve the quality of the facilities and especially promote widely the habit of washing hands using soap to prevent infections and the spread of diseases.
That was why the “Fyatua choo ushinde” was being launched under which there would be prizes presented to winners, he said.
He explained that during the campaign people will be required to send photographs of the kind of toilets available or being used in the community, old toilets, filthy ones and the cleanest or new toilets.
Launching the programme, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Ms Blandina Nyoni, said 83 per cent of people living in rural areas and 98 per cent of those in urban areas have toilets but they are not in good conditions.
She said the Government clearly recognizes the importance of hygiene and sanitation. It has therefore set priority targets in the National Strategy for Growth and Poverty Reduction to include 95 per cent of the population with access to basic sanitation by 2010.
Ms Blandina urged Tanzanians to properly use public toilets. She said some people have been misusing public toilets, thereby leading to the spread of sanitation- and hygiene-related diseases.
Source: Beldina Nyakeke, The Citizen, 04 Nov 2009