Is Access to a Toilet a Human Right or a Privilege?


Is Access to a Toilet a Human Right or a Privilege

The UN acknowledges sufficient sanitation as a human right. However, accessing this basic human right is not a reality for about 2.4 billion people worldwide. This has made it difficult for this affected population to consider this as a human right with most having to consider it as a right for the privileged few. A case study on two African countries, Kenya and Uganda, shows that there is a very long way to go in achieving the UN set objectives.

Uganda Challenge

The major sanitation crisis in Uganda appears to be mostly in the country’s capital spreading hovels. According to the Guardian writer, Rosalind Malcom, some of the available sanitation services are provided by NGOs . Thus, the poor slum-dwellers are expected to pay the community leaders to get access to the facilities. In addition to this, there is no much space for sanitation facilities in such an environment.

Kenyan Case Study

Kenya has also a big challenge in ensuring proper sanitation to all her population as required by the UN. This is because of the extending slums in major Kenyan towns. In this regard, congestion and low-income levels are major contributors to poor sanitation.

Kenya’ capital has one of the largest slums in the world. Kibera slum-dwellers have a big challenge in accessing sanitation facilities and clean water due to congestion and poor development and planning.

The third largest city in Kenya, Kisumu, has also experienced sanitation problems due to the fast cropping of informal human settlements. In addition to this, the city also faces a problem of water hyacinth. This water plant has invaded lakes around the town and block culverts and water drainage outlets. Despite a major effort by the Kenyan government to improve the infrastructure, little has been done to clear the drainage and to improve sanitation.

Measures by both Kenya and Uganda

Both countries have shown a big commitment in improving the sanitation services. However, these two countries acknowledge that initiating a human right to human sanitation is a big challenge. This has made Kenya to include the right in the 2010 new constitution to ensure its implementation. On the other hand, Uganda only includes the right in its municipal responsibilities.

This is because it does not have the right in the constitution yet. In this regard, both countries identify the right differently but many citizens do not practically access it. According to a research by University of Surrey, about 86% of the community in Kisumu share inadequate latrines. This is because of very practical problems in building toilets.

Permission to plan and construct latrines, is only given to very few individuals who can prove ownership. Moreover, there are complex land tenures that make it harder for common people to afford it. The nature of the people in these informal settlement communities is another challenge to land ownership. Consequently, the semi-nomadic nature of living and lack of land ownership makes it hard for many people to improve their own facilities.

Toilets and Sanitation

First, making this basic human right a reality requires it to be contained in the constitution. However, this cannot bring any benefits if we do not enforce the law and accept the obligations that come with it. These commitments should be followed by legally framed charges.

Secondly, the municipals should enhance the provision of toilets to be at satisfactory standards all over the world, also in the United States. Toilets that safe water are an important part of this and people need to become more aware of this fact and reading toilet reviews on sites like Best Toilet Guide is one way to get to know various types of toilet. This can be achieved by coming up with legislation that focus on better planning and building regulations.

Thirdly, acquiring land should be made easier. This can be done by ensuring that changes in the law allow compulsory acquisition of land to provide sites for toilets.

Lastly, the government should also be devoted in training people on the how to manage the provided toilet facilities.


Eventually, a political commitment towards provision of better sanitation to all is the only thing that can make the set laws to be useful. This is to say that there must be practical application of the set laws for this right to be considered as one by all. However, without proper funding, right attitude and a change in regulation, these laws are useless. Overall, a country should heavily invest in its sanitation.