Many citizens still defecate in the bush- UN findings
The Office of the President (OP) has shown no concern over the recently published damning report by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Environment, Dr David Boyd on the disturbing state of human rights issues in the country.
Three weeks after his media address at UN Place in Gaborone, the OP has not cared to respond to Dr Boyd findings nor respond to our enquiries concerning several areas of concern raised in the report.
This week Government spokesperson John Dipowe requested a questionnaire on the matter but did not respond because he was busy.
“Progress in ensuring adequate sanitation is slower, with 81 percent of population having at least basic access to sanitation. Five percent of Botswana population is forced to rely on open defecation in fields, forests, bushes and other open spaces, while another six percent share limited facilities with another household,” said Dr Boyd in his preliminary report shared with local media.
The report has further stated that the current goal of eliminating open defecation by 2036 should be moved forward, and achieved by prioritizing the allocation of resources to resolving the challenge.
According to the report, water scarcity in the country may force some families to resort to unsafe sources of water adding that diseases linked to contaminated water and food are a major contributor to infant mortality especially in rural areas.
“The Government of Botswana has a legal obligation to ensure that everyone has access to safe and sufficient water supply where they live, work, study and play. Human rights law is clear – the allocation of water must prioritize human rights first, the needs of the ecosystems second, and industry needs come third. Despite progress, as detailed by the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of water and sanitation in his follow-up report, there is still a substantial implementation gap.”
Dr Boyd’s report also condemned the Government’s decision to go ahead with Mmamabula coal fire power station saying it is suicidal since Botswana is vulnerable to effects of climate change and the country faces unprecedented heatwaves and droughts in the future. He said the power station will exacerbate the problem. In addition to the power station, he said there is need for the Government to ensure that the country does not become a dumping site for Asian Second hand import vehicles by monitoring the quality of vehicles imported into the country.
Some of the vehicles, the report stated have failed emission tests in their countries of origin and they are dumped in Botswana and therefore it would be prudent for government to impose strict inspection of such before allowing them entry.
The report recommended for Government to invest in renewable energy and take advantage of its abundant sunlight which is readily available throughout the year.
“Renewable energy offers economic, environmental and social benefits, including reduced air pollution, reduced greenhouse gas emissions, improvements to human health, and green jobs,” he said.
Dr Boyd visited several villages in the country at the beginning of October to collect and collate data.