Africa

World Toilet Day: African women speak out

Eliza Anyangwe, for CNN

Updated 1847 GMT (0247 HKT) November 19, 2015
Share
My Toilet public facility paintingMy Toilet public facility painting
1 of 8
19 November is World Toilet Day, an occasion to draw attention to the plight of 650 million people in the world who do not have access to clean water, and more than 2.3 billion who do not have access to a safe, private toilet. International charity WSUP paired up with Panos Pictures in 2014 to document the day-to-day reality for women around the world, including in seven African countries, asking them how a toilet (or lack thereof) affects their lives. Despite the differences, for all women, having a toilet equals a better chance of education, employment, dignity, safety, and status. Read what they had to say.
Hand-painted sign at a public toilet in Kumasi Ghana.
Nyani Quarmyne/ WSUP/Panos Pictures
Zenabu, 83, lived in Kumasi without a toilet for 50 years. She'd been using a public toilet for half a century, struggling with the distance, the toilets not being user-friendly for the elderly and the fact that they shut by 10pm. This made using the toilet during the night impossible. Zenabu now has a flush toilet installed in her home and says: "I don't like to go to the toilet at night because of the dark, and the place is dirty. I'm very happy that I'm finally getting a toilet in my house. I will be safe using it at night." Nyani Quarmyne/WSUP/Panos Pictures
Erika, 14, uses the new toilets at her school in Antananarivo.She says: "With these new toilets, I don't have to walk through dirty toilets with urine all over the floor. At home my younger brothers are constantly exposed to the risk of infections, which cause them to have diarrhoea and miss school" Fredreric Courbet/WSUP/Panos Pictures
Flora, 19, is a high school student. She lives in Chamanculo C in Maputo with her mother, sister and niece. She shares a toilet with several other families living nearby.She says: "I hate using this toilet. Sometimes men peek over the fence. There is no privacy." James Oatway/WSUP/Panos Pictures
Nombini has two Porta Potties, which are used by the 12 people who live in her home. When she first moved to Khayelitsha in 2005, she did not have a toilet so she had to go in the bush, across a main road."It was terrible in the bush, the cars hit you. When we were given a Porta Potty in 2009, it was much better than going in the bush. Flush toilets are first class compared to the Porta Potty though. My dream is to have a flush toilet." Eric Miller/WSUP/Panos Pictures
Maka, 50, lives in Kibera in Nairobi. Her toilet is a stone walled pour-flush toilet, which is connected to the sewer.She says: "My toilet was very expensive to construct, but my son who works in Saudi Arabia helped me to pay for it. It is much better for my mother, who is very elderly and cannot walk to the public toilets, which are outside our compound. I am very happy because I have a beautiful clean toilet." Fredreric Courbet/WSUP/Panos Pictures
Susan, 46, is the founder of a community school for children with physical and mental disabilities.Susan says: "It makes me proud and happy to teach disabled children so that in the future they can have a better life and not just stay at home. I was attacked by Polio at the age of two. It's not easy being disabled in Lusaka. Using the toilet is a challenge, especially in the rainy season, as I have to crawl to the toilets on my hands." James Oatway/WSUP/Panos Pictures
Amy, a medical doctor, moved back to Ethiopia after spending 19 years in The Netherlands. She lives in the house she grew up in, which she has renovated.Amy says: "I'd like to set up an organization to help citizens of Addis Ababa have access to free roadside toilets. A lot of people are moving to the city and so the demand for toilets is growing. Currently people go to the toilet in the streets, which is very unhygienic." Petterik Wiggers/WSUP/Panos Pictures