Zimbabwe’s bush toliets and disease


Zimbabwe-Forests and bushes in Zimbabwe’s rural areas have since turned into toilets and have become major sources of outbreaks of communicable diseases.

Mrs Senzile Ndlovu (38), a mother of six who lives in Ndikimbela Village in Ward 22, Nkayi District, is  among the villagers who are living without toilets.

“We are finding it difficult to do without toilets especially us women. A non-governmental organisation promised to build some toilets for each household here but the programme is yet to start.

“We used to have a makeshift toilet but it collapsed so we are back to using the bush,” she said.

Mrs Nothando Dube from the same village said most families had no toilets after most of the toilets were destroyed by cyclone induced floods in 2000. She said they were as a result using the bush to relieve themselves.

Mrs Dube said what has compounded the situation was shortage of water for both domestic use and for their livestock.

“We are facing difficulties especially now when the few boreholes have dried up. We have serious challenges when it comes to hygiene. We need toilets and access to safe drinking water. People are using the bush for toilets and this is causing pollution of water bodies,” said Mrs Dube.

Nkayi District Administrator, Mr Moses Mbewe, admitted that several wards in the district had no toilets and that people had problems accessing clean and safe drinking water.

“Many wards have no toilets as many of them were destroyed by Cyclone Eline in 2000. Most boreholes have broken down and as such people travel long distances to fetch water,” said Mr Mbewe.

Unicef recently compiled a report titled A Situational Analysis on the Status of Women and Children’s Rights in Zimbabwe 2005 to 2011 the (SITAN).

The survey which looked at the issue of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), revealed that in the last decade rural water and sanitation development management has deteriorated and worsened by                    the decline of support for health and hygiene education.

The SITAN reported that most rural children are dying of mainly water-borne diseases such as cholera, bilharzia, and diarrhoea because of poor sanitation.

The report revealed that there is need to educate villagers on the importance of having toilets, especially the older generations.

It is also reported that about 60 percent of infant mortality worldwide is linked to poor hygiene and water related infectious and parasitic diseases including common ailments such as diarrhoea, intestinal worms, trachoma, bilharzia and cholera mainly in the rural communities.

In his key note address at the launch of the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene programme early this year, Unicef’s representative, Dr Peter Salama said WASH’s objective was to improve access to clean and safe drinking water, sanitation and general hygiene. He said this was in line with one of the Millennium Development Goal (MDGs) which is to ensure people have access to safe clean water and hygiene by 2015.

“Investment in safe water and appropriate sanitation is critical to prevent outbreaks of water-borne diseases and will assist Zimbabwe to meet many of the Millennium Development Goals,” said Dr  Salama.

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