Over-the-Hill homes to get bathrooms

Dr Nicola Virgil-Rolle

The government will identify 100 homes per year in over-the-hill communities to be outfitted with bathroom units and septic tanks, according to Director of Economic Development and Planning Dr. Nicola Virgill-Rolle.

In a press conference Monday, Dr. Virgill-Rolle said, the aim is to replace outside toilets in the inner-city.

According to a 2013 report released by the Department of Statistics (DOS), just over 3,500 private homes in The Bahamas make use of outside toilets, unconventional toilet facilities, or do not have toilet facilities at all.

Dr. Virgill-Rolle said the Over-the-Hill Rejuvenation Project hopes to eliminate outside toilets and outdoor plumbing by 2025. She said the cost will be absorbed by the government, however, she is hopeful that private business owners will partner in the initiative.

A 2016 report from the Ministry of National Security cited in the White Paper recently tabled in Parliament by Prime Minister Dr. Huber Minnis, 599 residents in Bain Town, 464 residents in Centreville and 437 residents in Grants Town, use outside toilets.

The report also found that 1,928 residents in Bain Town, 1,555  in Centreville and 1,482 residents in Grants Town have no running water.

“We have got to work with engineers [and] architects to think about how we get the bathroom attached to this facility and how we get the cost down,” Dr. Virgill-Rolle explained.

“We have got to deal with plumbing. We have got to deal with septic tanks. We have to see whether they can tie them to the sewer system or septic tanks that go between two houses. And so, it is a lot on engineering that we have been made aware of, that has to go into this work.

“We are working with water and sewerage as well, to look and develop a full project plan. We are calling it the ‘Water for all by 2025’ strategies. We know that we can deal with this challenge. We are working with the Ministry of Works in order to come up with the plan. We want to partner with persons to donate engineering and architectural services for this project.”

According to the ‘Private Dwellings by Type and Use of Toilet Facilities and Main Source of Water Supply Report’, a total of 2,191 of the 102,758 households across The Bahamas utilized pit latrines at the time of the survey.

The report also showed that 200 households had no form of toilet facilities and another 1,117 households used “other” toilet facilities, which included the use of slop buckets or the disposal of waste in the bushes.