January 27, 2012
Despite the challenges associated with efforts to improve sanitation in Zambia, functioning communal toilets and taps are in sight in Ndola’s Kabushi Township following the completion of a sanitation project that will enhance hygiene for the residents. The project has brought dignity to the residents whose lives were once at risk of disease. The people can now boast of safe clean water and toilets as VIOLET MENGO reports.
IRENE Makoni, a mother of five, lost two of her children to diarrhoea. She attributes the death of her children to poor sanitation in Kabushi Township.
She admits that doctors had advised her to observe hygiene when her children were admitted to the hospital. Their illness was characterized by vomiting, fever and diarrhoea.
Another Kabushi resident, Joseph Nyirongo, has also been a victim of diarrhoea as a result of poor sanitation.
Makoni and Nyirongo are among thousands of Kabushi residents who had been living in poor sanitary conditions. Their communal flash toilets were dilapidated and this forced many family members to wake up at the crack of dawn to fetch water for cleaning their toilets.
Often, residents had to pay K5,000 for a 20-litre container of water, which made it hard for them to meet other basic needs. Most of the residents could not afford even a small amount to pay for water.
“We used to spend eight hours a day fetching water for the communal toilets we were using before they were closed,” Joseph Nyirongo says.
The communal toilets in Kabushi were closed by health authorities because they posed health hazards. The toilets designed decades ago, had collapsed forcing many residents to answer to the call of nature in nearby bushes.
To some, the only option was to dig pit-latrines which eventually also became full and posed a health hazard.
Dry human waste could be seen at the doorsteps of the communal toilets in the city’s high density township.
However, the situation is no longer the same. The National Water and Sanitation Council (NWASCO) through its basket fund-Devolution Trust Fund (DTF)- provided finances for the construction of new toilets in the township.
The project, which is now complete, will help in reducing the disease burden in the area.
Approximately K4 billion Kwacha was provided for the construction of the toilets and provision of water supply.
“The lack of sanitation for Kabushi residents was not just uncomfortable – it was dangerous. Without designated toilets and bathing areas, the risk of disease grew as existing water sources and the surrounding environment became contaminated,” Gonga says.
The long awaited sanitation project will be commissioned soon. It will allow people access to water supply and clean and safe toilets.
The sanitation project involved the construction of sewerage network, domestic reactors for waste water and treatment and the construction of household toilets.
DTF is Government basket fund that provides money to water utilities across the country to improve their service delivery.
Apart from the sanitation project, people in the community have been educated on hygiene and disease prevention, waste management and general cleanliness.
“We have seen our health and cleanliness improve,” says Emmanuel Bwalya. “We are sure that with the opening of the toilets, we will no longer experience diseases as was the case before.”
The Government has long recognized the importance of this basic human right and its direct impact on the quality of life. Through DTF, Government has invested huge amounts of money to better sanitation conditions in Zambia.
The lack of sanitation has a serious impact on health and social development, especially for children.
“By improving access to safe water and sanitation, the project will improve the lives of thousands and help reduce poverty levels and medical expenses,” Kafubu Water and Sewerage Company managing director Ian Banda says.
Banda says the project will also save women and children from spending much time fetching water.
The completion of the sanitation project in Ndola is testimony of Government’s efforts to protect people from diseases.
Globally, sanitation still remains a challenge. Of the 2.5 billion people around the globe without access to sanitation, 75 percent live in Asia and Africa.
Health experts say the absence of functioning toilets provides a springboard for the spread of diseases.
The United Nations Development Programme says a staggering two million tonnes of human waste is deposited in water courses each day across the world and half the population of the developing world is exposed to polluted water that causes disease.
It is no secret that investments in sanitation have, for decades, lagged behind investments in water supply.