“Sanitation is more important than political independence,” Mahatma Gandhi once mentioned. These words ring truer than ever in Botswana, considering the importance of hygiene in reducing the spread of the corona virus.
A report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) entitled “Progress on household drinking water, sanitation and hygiene 2000-2020: five years into the SDGs” notes that basic sanitation in Botswana increased by at least five percentage points between 2015 and 2020.
The joint WHO and UNICEF report also found that while Botswana recorded the least progress in increasing basic sanitation among all African countries, between 75 and 79 percent of the population was using at least basic sanitation services as of 2020.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goal on water and sanitation (SDG 6) which seeks to ensure safe drinking water and sanitation for all is regarded as one of the keys to a healthy, comfortable and dignified life. Ambitious indicators for WASH services (water, sanitation and hygiene) fall under targets 6.1 and 6.2.
Among other things, the report notes that the proportion of Botswana’s population in rural areas using improved water supplies accessible on premises improved from 45 percent to 50 percent in 2015 and 2020 respectively. On the other hand, the report finds that the proportion of Botswana’s population in urban areas using improved water supplies accessible on premises improved from 92 percent to 95 percent in 2015 and 2020 respectively.
Furthermore, the report states that the proportion of Botswana’s population in rural areas using piped water decreased from 77 percent to 76 percent in 2015 and 2020 respectively. On the other hand, the report states that the proportion of Botswana’s population in urban areas using piped water supplies decreased from 97 percent to 96 percent in 2015 and 2020 respectively.
The percentage of the population practising open defecation decreased from 12 percent to 10 percent in 2015 and 2020 respectively. Open defecation is defined as the proportion of the population who usually don’t use any kind of toilet facility for defecation. However people who use sanitation facilities such as pit latrines without slab, open pit, or hanging latrines, are not included among those regarded as practising open defecation.
Overall, the report notes that “achieving universal coverage by 2030 will require a quadrupling of current rates of progress in safely managed drinking water services, safely managed sanitation services, and basic hygiene services”.
Another report prepared by WHO entitled: “World health statistics 2021: monitoring health for the SDGs, sustainable development goals” shows that because of the improvement in hygiene services in Botswana, the WASH mortality rate or deaths attributable to unsafe water, sanitation and hygiene was 11.8 deaths per 100,000 population. This was one of the best scores in Africa.