KABUL, 16 November 2009 (IRIN) - For Kabul’s estimated population of
4-5 million there are only 35 public toilets, according to the municipal
“We need at least 65 extra public latrines in Kabul immediately,” Nesar
Ahmad Habibi, head of Kabul’s waste management authority, told IRIN,
adding that the lack of government action and limited resources had
prevented the construction of sufficient public toilets in the city.
“We have even sent proposals to the president’s office but to no
avail,” he said.
Many people are forced to defecate and urinate in the open: “It’s not
that we don’t want to use a latrine, it’s because there is no latrine,”
said Arifullah, a local man.
“If you have a pain in your stomach and there is no toilet how long can
you wait?” asked another man.
Only five of the 35 public toilets have facilities for the disabled -
well below what is needed given the large number of disabled people
resulting from three decades of turmoil.
People who use the latrines have to pay a small fee to cover
maintenance and cleaning - 5-10 Afghanis [10-20 US cents], a sum that the
large number of extremely poor people in the city would prefer to avoid
A rapidly growing population, lack of modern sewage systems,
significant waste management problems and the lack of public toilets in
Kabul are causing environmental and health risks, according to experts.
“I don’t use the latrines because they are extremely dirty,” said Abdul
Jamil, a young man. “There is also no soap to wash your hands.”
None of Kabul’s public toilets provide soap or hand-drying facilities.
Whilst hand-washing is crucial for disease prevention, soap is also not
available in toilets in most Kabul schools, officials in the Ministry of
“Inappropriate latrines, open defecation and poor waste management
cause serious diseases and damage the environment,” Hassan al-Sayed,
country director of the French NGO Solidarités, told IRIN.
In September 2008 Kabul Municipality told IRIN that up to 90 percent of
the 3,000 tons of solid waste produced in the capital every day was
managed and dealt with.
However, officials say waste management capacities have deteriorated
sharply in the past year: "Now we collect only about 50 percent of the
solid waste produced in Kabul on a daily basis," said Habibi, citing
dwindling resources, staff reductions and broken-down trucks as major
"For waste management in Kabul we need 17,500 staff but we have only
3,000; and we need 2,500 trucks but we only have 119."
Rapid population growth and unregulated housing developments have
created serious social and environmental challenges in Kabul, according to
Al-Sayed, whose organization has been helping households in Kabul to
build hygienic latrines, emphasized the importance of public awareness
about sanitation and hygiene.
"What if there are hundreds of safe latrines but people don't use
them," he said, adding that people should know the risks of open
defecation and unsafe latrines.
Only 12 percent of Afghans have access to improved sanitation and less
than 25 percent have access to safe drinking water, according to the UN
Children's Fund (UNICEF).
Most Afghans use the traditional dry vault toilet systems which were
ranked the worst toilets in the world by The State of the World's Toilets
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