Author: Zgambo, S.
It is generally believed that latrine coverage in Zambia, especially in the rural areas, is very low. It is also common knowledge that the country lacks accurate information on latrine coverage. The country does not have reliable systems for collection of such information. The wish to carryout thorough surveys that can provide the required information accurately is being hampered by lack of funds. In order to address this situation, N-WASHE carries out surveys in 15 different districts of Eastern and Southern provinces.
Purpose / Objective
To prepare a report indicating existing WASHE practices in the targeted districts and villages. This information will be used by N-WASHE and other co-operating partners to plan future interventions in the water and sanitation sector. Specifically, it will help in the preparation of donor proposals, and enable players to estimate required investment in the sector to achieve certain desired levels in coverage.
Information was gathered from 194 villages. One senior staff from the DEO's office, 15 teachers and 30 pupils were involved in this exercise. The selection of the 15 villages in each district was randomly done by the DEO's office in consultation with the D-WASHE committee. Care was taken to ensure that the selected schools were not in one geographical area. Due to limited availability, most of the schools selected were those within 50 km radius away from the district headquarters.
Key Findings and Conclusions
Orphans and Widows
The survey showed that out of the 2,910 households interviewed in 194 villages, 125 households (4.3%) were headed by orphans, while another 385 (13 %) were headed by widows. Up to 1,187 (40 %) households reported that they were keeping and supporting orphans within their homes. The total number of orphans being supported in the 2,910 households is 3,035.
The survey on latrines showed that out of the 2,910 households interviewed in 194 villages, only 1,207 (41%) have latrines. 446 (37% of 1,207) were found with covers that fit properly, while 609 (50% of 1,207) were found clean, without urine or excreta on the squatting platform.
Disposal of children's excreta
This survey showed that out of the 2,675 households interviewed, only 970 (36%) stated that they throw it into the latrine. The common practice noted was that children's excreta were treated as mere solid waste, and was often disposed of the way the households did with solid waste.
The information collected showed that out of the 2,910 households, only 653 (22%) households have hand washing facilities next to their latrines, and that hand washing is usually done in traditional basins, which is not very hygienic. The survey also showed that all households do wash their hands before having main meals, breakfast, lunch and dinner, but only about half practice washing hands after using the latrine, before preparing meals and after cleaning children's bottoms.
Also noted is the fact that very few households 1,239 (43%) use soap when washing their hands. Even where soap is available, the common practice is to wash hands using water only.
Water Supply Sources
Out of a total of 2,910 households interviewed, 1,988 (68%) got their water from protected sources, while the rest did not use protected sources. Protected sources in use were mainly boreholes (1,250), dug well with bucket (605), and dug wells equipped with hand pumps (133). Unprotected sources in use included: springs (79), rivers and streams (147), ponds and dams (23) and 528 scoop holes.
Distances to these water sources ranged from 0 to more than 5 kilometers. Most of the households interviewed (2,532) had their water sources within a 1 km radius. This number of households represents 87% of the total number of households interviewed.
Water carrying vessels
This survey revealed that up to 1,246 (43%) households out of the 2,910 households use some form of open vessels. The vessels used to carry water are mainly open buckets, clay pots and calabashes. It was also noted that a good number of households (1,587) have adopted the use of plastic jerry cans with lids, which reduce chances of the water getting contaminated on the way.
Storage of drinking water in homes
This survey showed that 1,046 families out of 2,910 keep their drinking water in either buckets or water pots that have lids to stop dirt from falling in them. Another 1,205 households do use plastic Jerry cans to store drinking water. Together, a total of 2,251 (77 %) do keep their water in some form of safe containers.
Out of the 2,910 households interviewed, only 1,172 (40 %) have dish racks.
Disposal of solid waste
This survey showed that only 1,041 (36%) of the 2,910 households have either refuse pits or composite pits. The rest of the households were either using a dump site within the locality of the house or, at times, had no specific place where to dump their solid waste. This solid waste, as already discussed, at times included children's excreta.
School Latrine Coverage
This survey revealed that out of the 195 schools covered under this study, only 15 (8%) had adequate sanitation for pupils, using the Ministry of Education standard of 40 pupils to one latrine. In certain schools, more than 100 pupils share one latrine. In 40 schools, latrines for teachers were not existent.
Out of the 2,226 households living within the school area, only 865 have a latrine. This represents a mere 38% coverage. This shows that the assumption that latrine coverage is higher in communities living near schools than those that are far away is not correct.
With the large number of orphans and widows living within these communities, a component in the WASHE program should be included that targets these groups, especially when providing materials for the construction of demonstration facilities such as pit-latrines.
To improve on the current coverage of safe and hygienic latrines, more resources (human and financial) should be mobilized and directed into the sector. Cheaper but safe technologies should be used so as to make latrines affordable by many households.
Well-planned and effective hygiene education programs, using participatory methodologies should be initiated or stepped up so that people can be reminded of the dangers of children's excreta, not washing hands after using the latrine or before touching any food. The use of soap during hand washing would also have to be stressed during such programs. The program could include a component of how water can be safely carried from the source, and how it can be stored in the homes without exposing it to contamination.
To ensure that the big number of communities still getting their water from unprotected sources is reduced, efforts should continue to mobilize resources for the improvement of existing sources as well as for the construction of new ones.
The use of dish-racks, though often not taken seriously in communities, contributes to ensuring that food utensils are not exposed to contamination. The hygiene education program can, therefore, ensure that this message is effectively delivered to the community during hygiene education sessions.
To reduce the breeding of disease, the hygiene education program would have to equally stress the importance of digging refuse pits. Wherever possible, communities would have to be encouraged to make composite heaps instead of ordinary refuse pits.
Schools usually serve as models on a number of issues in the community. Therefore, schools with adequate sanitation for both pupils and teachers are important. Adequate latrines in schools also encourage pupils, especially girls, to attend classes. A vigorous drive is, therefore, necessary to mobilize resources for the improvement of school sanitation and water supplies.
PDF files require Acrobat Reader.
Water and Environmental Sanitation
Ministry of Local Government, Ministry of Energy and Water Development