Mariental’s flying toilets – The Namibian

HILMA Shikongo’s day starts at 05h00 when she visits a nearby dumpsite to empty a bucket of faeces and urine.

She does this before even greeting her family.

This routine is nothing unusual at Takarania New Location, Mariental’s informal settlement.

Residents have been using buckets for toilets since 2012.

Most keep a bucket where they sleep, and discard of its contents in the morning.

The area has more than two dumpsites, where children can be seen playing.

Shikongo (32) says she often warns her three children not to play at the site.

“Sometimes our children run around, and the smell and broken glass can affect them,” she says.

Poor sanitation is the informal settlement’s biggest problem, she says.

Because there are no flushing toilets in the area, residents have to resort to other means.

“The situation is bad … the smell of everything is in my house. At night we cannot go outside to help ourselves, it’s too dark,” she says.

“Sometimes we are unable to sleep, because of the bucket in the room,” she says.

Shikongo says the lack of sanitation and electricity is affecting residents’ health and well-being.

“You can’t throw the bucket out at night either, it’s not safe outside.

“We sometimes hear screams that side of the dumpsite, and because of the lack of electricity, crime is also increasing,” she says.

Shikongo says her house has been robbed twice.

Resident Cecilia Shimooshili says: “If you cook food, you won’t even want to eat, because the smell enters our houses, and you feel like throwing up.”

“We need toilets!” she says.

Shimooshili says she has been living at the settlement for more than 10 years, but nothing has changed.

“Omeya (water) nothing, the electricity we don’t have, even at night you can’t go help yourself somewhere. It’s dark and you will be robbed or raped. They must do something for us. Our lives and our kids’ lives are at risk here,” she says.

Shimooshili says the municipality has also failed to manage landfills.

“We don’t have dustbins. It’s like we have been thrown away. Why is the town council not looking at the health problems we and these small children have been exposed to?

“When it starts raining it’s even worse. Dirty water flows into our houses. Kids have to walk in smelly mud to school, because there are no roads,” she says.

Mariental chief executive officer Paul Nghiwilepo says the local authority is challenged by residents occupying land illegally and demanding service delivery.

“Every local authority has this challenge. They went and grabbed land in an area that has not been serviced. Takarania Proper has been serviced and has water.

“We are trying to formalise those areas, and it’s going to take the council time to prepare and get the place ready for them,” he says.

The Namibian last year reported that more than 60% of Namibians have limited access to clean water and sanitation facilities, according to the European Union (EU).

The EU said the affected are subjected to unsafe hygiene practices and added that 50% of residents of informal settlements have no access to toilets.

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