Advocating for Better Living Conditions among the Poor in the Society
The need for proper sanitation in any household is a paramount necessity that is required in order for people to live a healthy life. Without it, the society suffers from unending problems that are brought about by poor sanitation that range from diseases, poor human health and environmental pollution, and also leads to several economic disadvantages.
Many countries especially in Africa and Asia have not been able to fully address the situation especially to most of the population that lives in the slums and vicinity of major cities. Many governments on the other hand do not pay attention to slum dwellers which forces various organized groups and non-governmental organizations to come to their aid in order to intervene in containing the situation.
I have grown up in the outskirts of Nairobi city, the capital of Kenya, whereby sanitation is very poor and unimaginable. Neither the county government nor the national government has stepped up in improving the sanitation levels of the suburbs that surround the city, especially those suburbs that have grown into the reality of slum life. The rural-urban migration has increased in large numbers forcing people to settle in crowded areas due to the limited settlement areas that are available.
Changing the Unbearable Life in the Slums
Kibera slum in the outskirts of Nairobi is one key example, inasmuch as it is the place that I call home. Amenities such as toilets could be accessed from faraway places forcing us to improvise other methods of excreting waste products. Needless I say the few households who had dug pit latrines in the compound of their home compounds still have issues with safe sanitation.
In all reality, they used to charge a small fee to individuals who wished to access the facility, which was at most a time used in very disgusting ways. There is usually a foul smell in the facilities and anyone using them usually comes out complaining.
I was lucky enough to grow up in such a neighborhood, acquire decent education and secure a job. As they say, east or west, home is the best. Despite the fact that the condition had remained the same without the slightest intervention by the government, I would still visit the place occasionally to visit my folks and friends whom I grew up with. It irritated me so much that so little was being done to improve the sanitation.
Taking the Necessary Steps to Improve Sanitation
I therefore took my initiative of engaging my fellow youths to form up a community-based organization with the idea of raising funds to purchase mobile toilets that would serve the population, though at a small fee that would enable us to sustain our project. I approached the county government for extra funding that would enable us to construct more permanent structures.
Luckily enough, a local NGO joined us and supported our initiative. Within a year, we were able to avail a reasonable number of mobile toilets that would enable only a few households to share a certain mobile. The government also responded by allocating various spaces where we would construct more permanent structures.
When I realized the overwhelming support we received from different sources, I decided to take the next step. Since the permanent structures were increasing in number, I raised the issue of the need for constructing a sewerage system that would connect the permanent structures and other households to the main sewer. This is a huge initiative that cannot be executed by our organization since there are laws and policies guiding the construction of such a facility.
I therefore prepared a proposal and a plan laying down the structure of the sewer that could be followed to the latter, and presented it to the county government. I also formed a campaign team that would propagate the idea in order to compel the government to approve the proposal and actualize it since it is within their obligation anyway to provide such an amenity.
It took me great effort to finally convince the county government to construct the sewerage system that saw the sanitation of the slum improve by a big margin. The challenge of accessing good sanitation in slum did not end due to the increasing number of dwellers and households which continued to grow and hence making access of the toilets to become limited, forcing some of them to continue using the same old ways of waste disposal that I tried to mitigate.
Being a densely populated area, water availability became scarce, which is a necessary resource in achieving good levels of sanitation.