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| Last Updated:21/05/2014

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Poor sanitation costs thousands of lives in Tanzania yearly, 07 May 2014


At least 30,000 Tanzanians die every year of diarrhea and other diseases attributed to unsafe water supply, poor sanitation and hygiene, the government has said.


Permanent Secretary for Health and Social Welfare ministry, Charles Pallangyo said barely 20 percent of households in the country have access to improved sanitation while 12 percent practice open defecation.


“This directly threatens lives of the people and for that the government has embarked on a national sanitation campaign to fight diarrhea and other waterborne diseases,” he said.


Pallangyo said this yesterday at the opening of an International Workshop on Scaling up Rural Sanitation and Hygiene jointly organised by SNV- a Netherlands Development Organisation and the ministry of Health and Social Welfare.


He said the campaign which was launched last year, primarily focused on rural and semi-urban areas where coverage was extremely low.


The Permanent Secretary said statistics indicated that 42 percent of children in the country, equivalent to 4 million were stunted.


“These figures are not only intimidating but also call for concentrated efforts for rectification. I am confident enough that once improved, sanitation and hygiene will significantly reduce the rate of stunted children,” he said.


“Studies show that improved sanitation could reduce diarrhea cases by up to 32 percent… and a mere hand wash with soap can cut down such cases by 42 percent,” he noted.


“The country for instance has just in 12 months into the campaign witnessed a promising change of behavior and a tremendous increase of 280,000 improved toilets and 190,000 functional hand washing facilities at households level,” he observed.


“25 percent of newly improved water facilities are already operating barely 2 years after they were constructed,” he added.


He however said over half of the rural population still lack access to clean water.


According to SNV online report, lack of clean and safe water as well as poor hygiene significantly hampers performance in the education sector.


According to 2011 reports, only 9 percent of schools countrywide were furnished with clean toilets and only 11 percent had latrines sufficient for all pupils while 45 percent had no supply of clean water and only 14 percent had hand-washing facilities.


SNV mainly focuses on water supply and sanitation facilities in rural communities and in schools.


“We work with local governments and communities to jointly improve water, sanitation and hygiene facilities in rural communities and in schools,” Martijn Veen, SNV Tanzania Acting Director said.


The workshop attracted 45 participants, all working on rural sanitation and hygiene in Nepal, Ghana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, South Sudan, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique and Tanzania, the host.


Other attendees were professionals from other development organizations and the government.


The four-day workshop is part of the learning activities of SNV’s ‘Sustainable Sanitation and Hygiene for All’ programme.


Meanwhile as the deadline for Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) strategy approaches, the government has been challenged over poor performance in the health sector particularly in maternal, newborn and child health.