More than 60,000 Global Citizens gathered in Johannesburg, South Africa, to make their voices heard on a number of issues — from health to inequality — and to witness leaders make financial commitments on the festival stage.
Even as South Africa makes progress towards the Global Goals, not every school in the country provides a safe learning environment, and over the past few years, multiple children have drowned in pit latrines.
Global Citizens have taken thousands of actions calling on the private sector to help the South African government eradicate pit latrines.
Global Citizen partner Vodacom has answered the call. Vodacom CEO Shameel Joosub announced at the festival that the telecommunications company is partnering with the government to funds its R8 billion sanitation campaign.
“Safety, education, and success of South African children is a top priority for Vodacom.
We find it completely unacceptable that a preventable and fixable issue like pit latrines is holding our children back,” he said.
Vodacom has shown remarkable leadership in working with the government, NGOs, and communities to help eradicate poverty and inequality in South Africa by investing in education.
“We are working together to ensure our children have safe toilets available to them at school so they can focus on learning and succeeding.
Today, we are happy to pledge to ensure children across our connected schools will have access to proper toilets in their schools,” Joosub.
Ensuring safety for a brighter future
Nelson Mandela was revered globally for espousing the value of Ubuntu, which a rallying call for everyone to work together towards the Global Goals.
Other than partnering with the government to make pit latrines history by 2030, Vodacom also called on Global Citizens to continue rallying behind sanitation.
Global Citizen ambassador Sho Madjozi is from the Limpopo province, where poor sanitation and pit latrines remain a challenge.
The plight of school children in the province caught national attention four years ago after 5-year-old Michael Komane’s tragic drowning in a pit toilet. In July 2018, a 3-year-old fell into a pit latrine and drowned in the village of Moletji Diteteng.
In what would be one of his last speeches, Nelson Mandela said, “Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings.
”Giving all children a chance at a bright future by ensuring their safety is a step in eradicating poverty."
Correction, Jan. 25, 2019, 11:10 a.m. ET: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that "hundreds" of children have drowned in pit latrines in South Africa over the past few years. We have updated the text to reflect that multiple children have died due to pit toilets in that time.