By PATRICK JARAMOGI
KAMPALA, Uganda [SHIFTMEDIA] Juliet Nakawooya decided to opt out of school in Primary six (6) after she fought hard to protect her privacy as she visited the toilet in her school.
Juliet is among the over 60 percent of the world’s population(4.5 billion people), who either have no toilet at home or have one that doesn’t safely manage human waste.
Access to proper sanitation
In 2020, just over half (54%) of the world population had access to safely managed sanitation. It is shocking that nearly one-in-two don’t. Around 6% do not have any sanitation facilities at all, and instead have to practice open defecation.
Uganda at a glance
According to Global Water , only 32 percent of Ugandans have access to a basic water supply, while 19 percent have access to basic sanitation and seven million Ugandans practice open defecation
Uganda has also made progress with national sanitation facility coverage, estimated at 79% on average. However, access to improved sanitation facilities is still low, especially in urban areas, at 36.3%, with over 12.6% practicing open defaecation.
In Uganda, only 19 percent of the population has access to toilets that are not shared and that protect them from direct contact with waste—conditions which poses a serious threat to women’s health and safety.
Solutions to the challenge
There is ray of hope following the coming into play of SATO Uganda .
SATO Uganda that begun activities in Uganda in 2016 is a leading promoter of the SATO Pan toilets in the country.
SATO, also simply referred to as “Smart, Fresh Toilet”, is a toilet pan that mechanically and hydraulically seals pit latrines. The toilet pan uses a mechanical and water seals to close off pit latrines from open air. According to Timothy Kayondo , the Country Head SATO Uganda, this does reduce disease transmission from flying insects that come into contact with human wastes.
“Apart from being easy to install, the facility that is available across leading hardware shops and Supermarkets countrywide also helps control odor (bad smell) and minimized water usage,” said Kayondo.
He notes that since they begun installing the SATO Pan kits in schools across Uganda, there has been a drastic reduction in the number of communicable diseases.
How does it work, we asked Kayondo at his Kampala offices? “The SATO Pan name is derived from the phrase “Safe Toilet” and are designed to close off insects or other hosts’ access to feces – thus limiting their ability to communicate these diseases,” he responded.
How it works
Reagan Nuwamanya the SATO Uganda Sales Associate for Central, Eastern and Northern explained that the SATO Pan flap is like a trap door. “The weight of a cup or bucket of water “flushing” the waste down opens the trap door to let it through into the latrine pit, but then the SATO Pan’s counterweight keeps the SaTo Pan flap closed at all other times. The plastic material is also easy to clean, ensuring any residual waste is “flushed” down the SaTo Pan,” said Nuwamanya.
(Diagram of SaTo Pan courtesy of www.lixil.com)
He said that they decided to make the SaTo Pans accessible for all by making it affordable. “We have three types of SATO Pans, the SATO Squat that goes for UGX18,000 ($5), the SaTo Flex, foot rest that costs UGX30,000 ($8) and the SaTo Stool meant for the elderly and pregnant women that costs UGX 40,000 ($11USD) each,” said Nuwamanya.
Beware of Counterfeits
Like any other business challenges, SATO Uganda that manufactures its pans from Nice House of Plastics , they according to Nuwamanya and Kayondo are battling issues of counterfeits. “We cant rule out fake products in the market that are trying to drive us out of business,” said Nuwamanya.
He however has an advice to Ugandans to always buy the best, but not the cheapest. ‘The good aspect with our products is that they are tested, tried and approved regarding quality. All our toilet pans have our logo SATO embedded into them, and our genuine products are sky blue, not white, red, yellow or green or dark blue,” advised Nuwamanya.
Where can they be purchased from?
SATO Uganda works with leading partners such as UNICEF, USAID, Water Schooling Uganda, and Nice House of Plastics Uganda to make the products readily available across the country.
Nuwamanya said the pans can be got in all districts across Uganda, where hardware materials are sold. “You can get our products in Masaka, Mukono, Mbarara, Jinja, Tororo, Busia, Mbale, Soroti, Gulu, Lira, Arua City, and entire westside,” he said.
Beneficiaries speak out
Much as over 28 million Ugandans still lack access to clean, and safe drinking water, the paradigm shift is trending to have this gap closed, at least according Savio Sekamanje, one of the beneficiaries of the SATO pan toilets in Uganda.
“Before we installed the SATO pan toilets in our school courtesy of SATO Uganda, we had issues of high school drop outs especially among the teenage girls. Communicable diseases were also rampant,” said Sekamanje. “The pungent smell especially as the latrines filled up have since stopped. We used to spend a lot in purchase of chemicals whenever the latrines filled up to kill the marauding maggots, these costs have been stopped,” he said.
Sekamanje is the Director RosePask Primary school in Namungoona, a Kampala suburb located in Lubaga division, some 7 kms northwest of Uganda’s capital Kampala.
Doubling as the Chairperson Private schools in Lubaga division, Sekamanje hailed SATO Uganda to initiating the new technology in Ugandan schools, something he said will go a long way in combatting diseases in schools.
“However, there is need to sensitize the populace regarding benefits of SaTo pans. Out of the 500schools in Lubaga, I can say only 20% have embraced the idea,” he said.
He also cited the challenge of water accessibility especially among schools located in high altitude location like RosePask.
“If only we would get more government support, or SATO partners with others to provide water tanks to schools at affordable prices, many would embrace this new technology, ´ said Sekamanje.
He noted that children often pull out of school because they are sick with a waterborne disease that can cause illnesses like diarrhea according to statistics, over 25% of students drop out of school in Uganda due to water related illnesses.
Over 70% of all diseases treated in Uganda stem directly from a lack of clean water or poor sanitation and hygiene techniques.
As Uganda’s population, currently at 44 million people, of which more than 80% live in rural areas, there is need to sensitize the masses on the importance of proper sanitation using clean latrines.
Uganda still lacks proper sewage systems, and the main way for these villagers to relieve themselves is to use an open pit latrine, a simple hole in the ground with no cover or flushing system.
Pit latrines are breeding grounds for flies, which can carry and transmit harmful diseases.
Since SATO Uganda has set the pace for a clean sanitation, lets embrace this technology as we combat communicable diseases.
SATO pans can be placed directly above open pit latrines to give families the functionality of a flush toilet, complete with a self-sealing trap door that keeps the toilet shut tight.