Breadline Africa has committed R7m of the annual budget to providing safe toilets in schools
Breadline Africa rejoiced in 2018 when President Cyril Ramaphosa announced his R6.8bn campaign, Sanitation Appropriate for Education (Safe), to eradicate pit toilets in schools countrywide. Sadly, your editorial opinion on Friday confirms there is still far to go (“Eradicate school pit toilets now”, March 24).
More than 3,000 schools in SA still use pit toilets, and more than 5,000 have inadequate access to sanitation. This does not factor in early childhood development centres and preschools, where most of our work takes place. The Early Childhood Development Census 2021 showed that 17,000 (40%) of SA preschools lack flushing toilets, and 19,000 do not have running water.
Children under six are at greatest risk of falling into pit toilets as the openings are too big for them, resulting in children having to sit precariously on the edge of a piece of wood that serves as the seat.
It is true that children can learn anywhere, but they learn best when they are in a safe, healthy environment. Due to our focus on providing basic infrastructure — toilets, taps, classrooms, and kitchens — teachers can focus on teaching. Running water and safe toilets are a huge part of creating an environment that is conducive to learning.
Breadline Africa is nonprofit organisation that relies wholly on donor funding to build infrastructure in SA’s poorest communities. We have already committed R7m of our annual budget to providing safe toilets in schools and early childhood development centres, but we want to do more.
We challenge Ramaphosa to match our commitment of R7m to double the number of safe toilets we will build this year in schools and early childhood development centres countrywide. We also appeal to corporate SA to help us take action and keep SA children safe from such tragedies.
Let’s stop talking about how terrible this situation is and start doing something about it.
CEO, Breadline Africa