AFRICA/ZAMBIA - Only 58% of Zambia's population has adequate sanitation

Friday, 9 September 2011

Lusaka (Agenzia Fides) - The frequent flooding, poor drainage and lack of toilets in Kanyama, sprawling poor villages in Lusaka, force most residents to use plastic bags during the night rather than go to the toilet which are more than 200 meters from homes. The situation in Kanyama is a national problem. According to a 2008 study conducted by a local NGO, only 58% of Zambia's population has access to adequate sanitation, while 13% do not have any kind of toilet. The government has taken steps to improve water and sanitation systems in urban areas, leaving semiperipheral urban settlements with a high population density, as for example Kanyama, without spaces, with poor land, not suitable for the construction of latrines and with precarious road network which has contributed in seriously aggravating the problem concerning water drainage. The existing latrines not only are overcrowded, they attract worms, too and during the rainy season, the overflowing sewage pollute the wells, feeding diseases such as diarrhea, cholera and dysentery. The precarious drainage system in Kanyama has made the area particularly exposed to the proliferation of cholera. For the poor outskirts of the city, the government had promised a project, partially completed, which was abandoned in October 2010.
Mgr. Evans Chinyemba, Bishop of the Diocese of Mongu in the impoverished Western Province, said he was alarmed and said in a statement released by the IRIN agency that "we must pay close attention to water problems". "There are many rivers in the province, and I think that we have not exploited our resources in order to provide water to our people." The Bishop added that the government digs wells in some areas, without covering the whole province. Unfortunately there are no funds in the country and therefore diseases continue to spread favored by poor drainage and polluted water. Malaria and diarrhea are among the main diseases: according to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), malaria causes 50 000 deaths each year (23% of all deaths in the country) and diarrhea about 7% of all diseases reported. (AP) (Agenzia Fides 09/09/2011)