Sanitation to save Lake Togo (and all other lakes)
Once a tourist attraction, Lake Togo languishes surrounded by sewage outfalls and tons of waste. The short film Trash Lagoon, finalist at the We Art Water Film Festival 5, shows the damage caused by water pollution to fishermen. It is yet another example of how the loss of biodiversity throws a society off balance and how any solution against poverty requires the achievement of universal sanitation.
Once a tourist attraction, Lake Togo languishes surrounded by sewage outfalls and tons of waste.
Despite a reduction in the poverty rate from 61.7% in 2006 to 53.5% in 2017, Togo is still one of the poorest countries in the world. According to the , poverty is particularly excruciating in rural areas, where 69% of the households lived below the poverty line of two dollars per day in 2015.
In the south of the country, only separated from the sea by a narrow coastal strip, Lake Togo is a 64-square-kilometer body of water. During the second half of the 20th century, the lake was a tourist destination, an industry that coexisted in balance with artisanal fishing and agriculture. After the independence from France, the lake maintained a source of income from tourism that provided a livelihood for the fishermen. The quality of the fishery, with freshwater and marine varieties, was a source of sustainable wealth.
But the quality of the lake’s water started to deteriorate in the 1990s. The demographic growth of the lakeside towns and villages and political instability allowed discharges into the lake to increase uncontrollably. Lake Togo ended up suffering the consequences of urban sprawl and the endemic lack of sanitation in the country. According to the World Bank, only 16% of the population has access to basic sanitation and 47% still practiced open defecation in 2017.
Abandoned lakes, lives cut short
Trash Lagoon, by Awussikpo Elom Komlan, finalist at the fifth edition of the We Art Water Film Festival.