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National Sanitation Week, 11 - 15 May 2015

The Department of Water and Sanitation will be observing and celebrating the Sanitation and Hygiene month in May 2015.

The main objective of the celebration of Sanitation and Hygiene Week is to raise the profile of sanitation and encourage local government and communities to prioritise sanitation, health and hygiene and further to highlight the work that the Department is doing to ensure that:

  • All South Africans have access to sanitation,
  • The critical importance of looking after sanitation facilities is advocated,
  • Communities are well informed of the need to practice good hygiene practices, like wash of hands after using the toilet and before preparing food.
  • Communities and stakeholders are well informed and updated of the progress made in sanitation provision and health & hygiene promotion programmes.

Access to adequate sanitation is fundamental to personal dignity and security, social and psychological well-being, public health, poverty reduction, gender equality, economic development and environmental sustainability. The right to sanitation has been affirmed internationally in July 2010.

In September 2000, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to reduce poverty and improve the health and well-being of our communities. In 2002, during the World Summit on Sustainable Development held in Johannesburg, sanitation was included as one of the MDGs. During the same year South Africa hosted the first Africa Sanitation and Hygiene Conference, which sought to highlight the strategic importance and benefits of provision of sanitation and to put mechanisms in place to accelerate the rate of delivery in Africa.

In much more concerted efforts to meet the sanitation MDGs and constant reminder for many other countries to fast-track towards meeting their MDGs, Sanitation and Hygiene Week was introduced at Global WASH Forum held in Dakar, Senegal from 29 November to 03 December 2004. It was during this forum that different government leaders took a declaration which is now called, the “Dakar Declaration”.

In July 2010, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly passed a resolution declaring “the right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation as a human right that is essential for the full enjoyment of life and all human rights”.

South Africa is amongst many countries faced with the global challenges affecting the eradication of sanitation backlog and has committed itself to join the globe towards enhancing and fast-tracking programmes and developments towards fulfilling the international commitment to eradicate sanitation backlogs by 2015. The South African government in response to the global sanitation related challenges, has however set out higher targets and committed itself in ensuring that all buckets in formal established settlements will be eradicated and all households have access to basic sanitation by 2010.

Reasons hampering progress on eradicating existing backlog, include the fact that sanitation has from the past not been regarded as a priority, thus the need to raise the profile of sanitation in order to change the mindsets of ordinary citizens, decision makers, all spheres of government and all stakeholders through advocacy programmes and campaigns.

Worldwide, lack of sanitation is a pressing challenge and more than 40% of world’s population (that is approximately 2,4 billion people) still have no access to basic sanitation. Globally, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 1.8 million people die each year from diarrheal diseases, mostly related to poor sanitation and hygiene. It is estimated that 5 500 children across the world die every day from diseases caused by contaminated food and water.


The objectives of the Sanitation and Hygiene month are to:

  • Increase awareness of the importance of sanitation to ones’ daily lifestyle, health and dignity.
  • Promote the continued identification, documentation and replication of sanitation best practices.
  • Promote innovative approaches towards the acceleration of sanitation implementation programmes.
  • Promote programmes to ensure sustainability of sanitation facilities, through their correct usage, operations and adequate maintenance.
  • Acquire buy-in and support from key neglected stakeholders and interested parties, like the media and civil society.
  • Holistic celebration of progress made in sanitation facilities provision and health & hygiene promotion in the past government dispensation.
  • Celebrate progress made on development of improved legislation towards proper regulations, monitoring and evaluation on sanitation related services.



The general theme is: "IT IS NOT ALL ABOUT FLUSHING".


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