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Updated 07 August 2014

Flush mobs

Earlier this week we watched a so-called poo protest from the safety of our fifth-floor offices in Adderley Street. Clearly, toilets and sanitation are political and emotional issues.

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Earlier this week we watched a so-called poo protest from the safety of our fifth-floor offices in Adderley Street. Later in the day nine people were arrested for flinging human faeces in the Cape Town International Airport Departure Hall.

Clearly, toilets and sanitation are political and emotional issues. While I won't get embroiled in the ins and outs of pre-election party politicking, I have to just add that this no new issue. I remember in the early nineties when I was working in the townships driving through a  sewage-flooded Old Crossroads after a winter storm.

Back to the issue of toilets. Try and imagine your life without yours. For many thousands of years there were no toilets – there was just the Great Outdoors and a few leaves for loo paper. Centuries ago in many cities people simply flung sewerage into the streets. But with our overcrowded modern cities, an efficient sewerage system is paramount. We just couldn't live here without it.

Cholera, diarrhoeal diseases and parasitic infections can all be caused by poor or non-existent sanitation. Apparently, in rural areas of India, a man's eligibility increases hugely if his home has a flush toilet. It isn't difficult to understand why.

So next time you flush the loo, be grateful. In fact, the average person uses the toilet eight times a day. So you have eight opportunities for gratitude every day. If you think I am joking, just see how helpless you feel when it is blocked up and cannot be used.

Write to us and let us know if you have any ideas on how sanitation problems can be solved in SA, and whose responsibility this is.


 
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