In Ethiopia’s capital, Addis Ababa, locals are inhaling a breath of fresh air as a result of a major face-lift of its sanitation services. This has given hope against an otherwise precarious situation.
Misgana Dormiso who polishes shoes along a busy street in the capital said working out in the open has its challenges especially when it comes to bathroom breaks.
Until recently, Misgana and his friends had to walk at least an hour to find a bush to relieve themselves.
But that has changed; the Addis Ababa Water and Sewerage Authority is rolling out a programme to put up public toilets in the city.
“We really had a big problem when it came to toilets in this area. Not only me, everyone was having a tough time. We used to walk for up to thirty minutes to go to the closest bush to relieve ourselves. It means I will have to waste an hour just to relieve myself. If you don’t want to do that you would have to get pressed,” he said.
Some 3,000 public toilets are to be constructed at a cost of about 30,000 US dollars each in the next five years.
People pay about 45 US cents to use the facility, which goes into maintenance and workers’ salaries.
Fatuma Mohammed, a cleaner, has welcomed the face-lift.
“I didn’t have any proper job before this. I was staying at home raising children. Thank God now I am happy to have this job,” she said.
According to Unicef, only 57 percent of the country’s 100 million people have access to water and sanitation services.
“We need them on almost every street corner, we need them in market places, we need them in bus stops, we need them also in many cases close to the universities, close to some secondary schools where equally we do not have sanitation facilities. So there’s a huge responsibility to increase and augment the amount of sanitation facilities that are required within the city,” he said.
Authorities have been called upon to help improve the statistics.