The 12th annual World Toilet Summit gets underway in Durban today. However, ordinary men and women on the streets say they do not know what the summit will be about. The three day conference is expected to attract over a thousand delegates and exhibitors and is expected to focus on human rights, health and hygiene.
The main summit theme is African sanitation: Scaling up dignity for all. Spokesperson for the South African shack dwellers' movement Abahlali baseMjondolo, Sibusiso Zikode says the summit will be another talk shop as the people who do not have access to water and sanitation are not part of the conference. Zikode says communities without proper toilets were never invited to participate in the conference.
He says, “The summit is one of those talk shops because it does not include the people who are actually in need of toilets. In fact it is unacceptable for such conferences to be held without inviting the people who are in need of water and sanitation. The very same trend continues that so many people want to speak for the poor and about the poor, but very few who will want to speak directly to them. It is true that in South Africa like in many informal settlements there is hardly any water and sanitation.”
Meanwhile, other residents outside Durban say they are still using pit toilets and had no idea what the toilets summit will be discussing in Durban. They say they want government to provide them flushing toilets which will result in their community being clean. The current ground toilets are said to be unsafe for children.
President Jacob Zuma has urged government to speed up the process to provide them with proper toilets.