Concerned with increased open defecation in Western Zambia (Maboshe Memorial Centre)


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Western is a poorest province in Zambia where general awareness of proper sanitation is next to zero. Due to extreme poverty and illiteracy, people observe poor hygiene practices. General population even forego the washing of hands after going to the toilet, due to lack of proper water supply and poorly maintained facilities. The local government doesn’t provide waste disposal facilities which leads to people throwing waste in the open, which in turn invites various diseases like diarrhea, which is a mass killer in Zambia.

FIRSTLY, Maunyamo “Habrour” is not connected to sewer system. The Western Water and Sewerage Company are more interested in cost recovery rather than giving access to all people. This has resulted into the majority of the residents to use open defecation or shallow pit latrines which puts them at higher risk of contracting diarrhea. Largely, diarrhea, typhoid, and trachoma is as a result of poor sanitation. This means human waste find its way in food or water that people drink due to poor sanitation, (WHO, 1987). This is inclusive of human waste which has to be disposed of properly in a hygienic manner.

SECONDLY, the persistence of diarrhea in Maunyamo “Habrour” is due to low coverage of piped water supply. The majority of the residents depend mostly on water from the river or shallow wells. This means that the majority of people have no access to clean water, hence the outbreaks of diarrhea, typhoid, and trachoma every rainy season in Maunyamo “Habrour”.

THIRDLY, Poor habits such as not washing their hands after using the toilet, not covering food for storage and eating cold food staff are ways which cholera can spread at a fast rate. The diarrhea, typhoid, and trachoma outbreak problem can be resolved through health education and health promotion programs on good health hygiene programmes.

FOURTHLY, Drainage system is another factor that makes diarrhea outbreak to be endemic in Maunyamo “Habrour”. Examples drainage system are used for their calls of nature, this environment problem can be sorted out by providing pit latrines or toilets. Part of the solution can be also traced from a program that was introduced by UNICEF, in 2002 known as Total Sanitation Program (TSP) led by the community members themselves aimed at addressing poor sanitation in rural areas.

FIFTHLY, reason why Maunyamo “Habrour” is endemic to diseases such as diarrhea, typhoid, and trachoma is that most people are poor. They cannot afford to buy basics of hygiene such as water filters, medicated soaps or treat drinking water with chlorine. Personal hygiene such as keeping the surrounding clean, keeping food covered or heating up food before consumption becomes a problem. This problem can be overcome by health promotion on safe disposal of urine and waste and also emphasizing the importance of clean toilets, food hygiene and their implications.

Many of the western province population live in rural areas where residents rely on open-pit latrines for sanitation purposes. As a result endemic and intestinal diseases are rampant in rural areas where medical facilities can’t be procured easily.

The reasons that have been given for people who don’t use toilets have either been poverty that makes it a challenge to build latrines or lack of government support in providing such facilities. In cases where the toilets are available but people still end up preferring opened defecation, the reasons can extend to cultural issues related with sharing toilets among family members.


WATER BORNE DISEASES: - Diarrhoea, typhoid, trachoma and other problems associated with the ingesting and exposure to human waste affect children under the age of 5 years the most since they are very susceptible to diseases. This exposure is because most of open defecation happens next to water ways and rivers, this include the drainage systems that are usually meant to traffic rain water away from urban areas into natural water ways.
Such areas are often preferred because open defecators have a belief that the water washes away their waste. What they seem to forget is that most of such areas are not properly empowered to treat the water to remove human waste and the microbes that move with it. Such a practice is contrary to proper sewage channels that treats waste black water and channel it into water systems free of any disease causing germs afterwards.

Therefore, the result of open defecation near water ways is that it is carried into the water system minus treatment. As a consequence, the contaminated water ends up in the main water source. When people in these regions use the water as it for drinking and cooking (since the water is not boiled most of the time because of poverty and lack of education) it results in water borne diseases such as diarrhea, typhoid, and trachoma.

VECTOR BORNE DISEASES: - Apart from water borne diseases, when the human waste collects into heaps, it attracts flies and other insects. These flies then travel around the surrounding areas, carrying defecate matter and disease causing microbes, where they then land on food and drink that people go ahead and ingest unknowingly. In such cases, the flies act as direct transmitters of diseases such as diarrhea, typhoid, and trachoma.

COMPOUNDING THE PROBLEM OF DISEASE EXPOSURE: - The saddest fact about disease transmission caused by open defecation is the cyclic nature of problems that then begin to manifest. The most common diseases caused by this unsanitary act are increased cases of diarrhea, typhoid, trachoma, regular stomach upsets and poor overall health. With diarrhoea, for instance, it means that people cannot make their way to distant places due to the urgency of their calls of nature, so they pass waste close to where they have their bowel attacks.

It simply ends up creating more of the same problems that started the disease in the first place and in turn, leads to more people catching diseases and less people using the facilities. The result of this is more sick people and more opportunities for the disease to spread.

MALNUTRITION IN CHILDREN: - Malnutrition in children is another health problem associated with open defecation. Once a child is a victim of one of the diseases passed on due to the lack of proper sanitation and hygiene, they begin to lose a lot of fluids and lack of appetite for food. As a result, it gives rise to many cases of malnutrition in children.

Also, the situation is worsened by intestinal worm attacks passed through the human refuse. Altogether, these problems lead to stunted growth and weakened immune system that makes the child more susceptible to other diseases such as pneumonia and tuberculosis.


CONTAMINATION VIA MICROBES: - The environment also suffers as a result of open defecation because it introduces toxins and bacteria into the ecosystem in amounts that it cannot handle or break down at a time. This leads to build up of filth. Also, the load of microbes can become so great that in the end, they end up in aquatic systems thereby causing harm to aquatic life.

At the same time, it can contribute to eutrophication or the formation of algal blooms that form disgusting scum on the surface of the water ways which disturb aquatic life underneath the water by preventing oxygen and light diffusion into the water.

VISUAL AND OLFACTORY POLLUTION: - Heaps of human or just the sight of it cause eyesore and nauseate anyone who is close. The stink emanating from the refuse is also highly unappealing and pollutes the surrounding air. Such places also attract large swarms that make the area completely unattractive for the eye.

For all those unfortunate to see the district affected, it creates a sorry sight and reduces the dignity of all those living in the squalor of the district. The smells augment the problem by disgusting those who live within the affected district making life awful.

The solutions of open defecation are, to solve this issue; it takes the action of individuals and even the intervention of the government to address the cultural, economic and social challenges.

PROVISION OF TOILETS: - First, there is a need to ensure that there are enough toilets. Since the province is very poor, it will take the efforts of the government as well as the good will of local organizations such as Maboshe Memorial Centre (MMC), other CBOs and NGOs to help fix the problem. Construction of pit latrines and other toilet options such as compost toilets is necessary to help deal with the problem of lacking sewer systems. Governments should also try to establish incentives for people to build their own toilets by providing subsidies and putting up public toilets in strategic locations.

CORRECTIVE CIVIL EDUCATION: - Another platform that needs to be addressed is the negative cultural association that people have with toilets. The people should be informed and given civic education to enable them break away from their cultural beliefs on issues such as the fact that toilets are not supposed to be shared.
In other words, cultural norms and beliefs must be changed over time through education and awareness creation. With time, people can become informed and drop the beliefs or at least adjust and make concessions about the ones that are most destructive.

INCENTIVIZE PUBLIC HYGIENE PARTICIPATION: - By creating government programs that encourage sanitation and personal hygiene, individuals must be involved and forced to take up the responsibility of enhancing their hygiene as well as overall health.

Through such programs, people can get to learn the importance of their environments and work towards ensuring that they do not harm themselves by partaking in open defecation. It eventually reduces healthcare burdens on the government and lessens the number of those who practice open defecation as it will be seen as a terrible activity.

This is clear that with such floods of every year in the Barotse plains, those who draw water from shallow wells will definitely be affected by cholera as well.

Maboshe Memorial Centre (MMC) feels that we have to break the silence and build awareness about the fundamental role that ending open defecation plays in enabling people to reach their full potential in living a health life by promoting hygiene.

Therefore, ending open defecation is top on the agenda for the Maboshe Memorial Centre (MMC) that is why the Maboshe Memorial Centre (MMC) team wishes to extend its invitation to interested donor partners and persons to take part in ending open defecation program a success by way of partnering, donations and contributions.

Issued by the Maboshe Memorial Centre (MMC)
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  • Maboshe
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Over 80% of diseases in Zambia emanate from lack of access to improved sanitation. According to the 2012 World Health Organisation (WHO) monitoring report, over six million people in Zambia live without access to toilets and improved sanitation.

Diarrhoea is the third largest killer of children under the age of five in Zambia. This is especially prevalent in rural areas where less than half of all rural women and men (43%) use soap or another appropriate medium to wash their hands after relieving themselves and before cooking and eating.

Maboshe Memorial Centre (MMC) Executive Director Patrick Maboshe says open defecation is still the biggest challenge Zambia is facing today.

Maboshe says it is shocking that after 52 years of independence people in the country are still using the bush to answer the call of nature hence contaminating the environment.

He says it will be difficult for Zambia to attain open defecation free status by 2020 if people’s mind set is not changed.

Maboshe has since called on Zambians to take the issue of constructing toilets seriously if the aim of attaining free defecation status is achieved by 2020.

He said over 80% of diseases in Zambia emanate from lack of access to improved sanitation.

According to the 2012 World Health Organisation (WHO) monitoring report, over six million people in Zambia live without access to toilets and improved sanitation. Out of these six million people, 2.5 million practice open defecation.

Maboshe Rural Water Initiative (MRWI) is a Maboshe Memorial Centre (MMC) approach aimed at encouraging and empowering local communities to stop open defecation (OD) and start building and using latrines.

Maboshe said lack of access to improved sanitation contributes to the high prevalence of diarrhoeal diseases adding that there was need for local solutions and innovations aimed at enhancing sanitation and ending open defecation.

“Open defecation is not a reflection of poverty but a traditional practice which has continued to exceedingly contribute to the high cases of disease outbreaks such as cholera in our communities. We need effective public education so that people understand the hazards of open defecation,” Maboshe said.

He said Zambia risks not achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) No.6 which aims at reducing by half the number of people who don’t have access to basic sanitation if open defecation was not stopped.

“Millions of people are still using bushes to defecate because they do not have toilets. We need to sensitise people to build basic and affordable toilet structures if we are to achieve SDG number six and reduce diarrheal diseases,” he stressed.

Maboshe Rural Water Initiative (MRWI) triggers the community’s desire for change and propels them into action to develop local solutions to improve sanitation in their localities.

He said stories of indiscriminate disposal of human excreta or open defecation are rife in some of the rural and urban district areas of Western province in Zambia even in this time and age when technology has evolved. It is surprising to see people in this generation and century disposing of human excreta indiscriminately or open defecation not only in rural areas but also in urban areas.

But the question is it because of too much bare land in Western province or inadequate sanitation facilities, especially in the rural areas.

However, improved sanitation is important not only to human health but also for economic and social development. Yet sanitation in Zambia faces challenges linked to human behaviour and key on the list are lack of infrastructure, indiscriminate disposal of water waste, lack of control for collection and treatment of waste and open defecation.

The effects of open defecation are that it pollutes the ground water, agricultural produce and helps spread diseases such as diarrhoea, cholera and bilharzia.

Issued by Patrick Maboshe
Executive Director
Memorial Centre (MMC)
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  • Maboshe
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Concerned with increased open defecation in Western Zambia (Maboshe Memorial Centre)

Maboshe Memorial Centre (MMC) Executive Director Maboshe Patrick speaking people is saddened with the increased open defecation in some districts of Western Province.

Maboshe observed that most parts of districts lack decent toilets thereby contributing to increased open defecation.

Open defecation poses great health hazard not only to selected segment of a certain society but to the all entire nation, Maboshe said.

Maboshe who was on a tour of the districts called for inclusion of all traditional leaderships, government officials in the fight against the trend in the area.

Maboshe said open defecation does not only disturb public sights but also creates ideal environment for the outbreak of transmissible diseases.

Open free defecation goal cannot be realized without full involvement of all the people and asked stakeholders and the entire community to be steadfast in the implementation of the cleaning campaign exercise Maboshe said.

Maboshe urged the people of districts to stand up in large number and tighten-up hygienic measures in order to avoid communicable diseases in the area.

It was disheartening to note that Western Province is currently standing at 7 percent rate in hygiene when the country is advocating for achieving free open defecation by the year 2020, Maboshe said.

Maboshe observed that lack of proper knowledge and sensitization to the people on the subject was a great contributing factor to the current augmenting opening defecation in the province and called for an urgent action against the vice.

Maboshe is in Western Province working with civic leaders, government officials and the Barotse Royal Establishment (BRE) in combating open excretion.

Issued by Maboshe Memorial Centre (MMC) Media Team.
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