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Keep Zambia clean: Development through healthy people

ON SATURDAY April 28, 2018, the nation witnessed the re-launch of the “Make Zambia clean, green and healthy” campaign by President Edgar Lungu.
Similarly, if you may recall, about three years ago, on Friday, September 18, 2015, in his speech during the official opening of the Fifth Session of the 11th National Assembly, President Lungu highlighted the significance of promoting and maintaining a clean, healthy and safe living and working environment.
I would like us to look at this matter from a citizenry perspective. As much as Government is making strides in keeping the environment clean, what are you and I doing about it? We have been given policy direction, let us now get moving. Former president of the United States of America John F. Kennedy once said in his inauguration speech in 1961: “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” I now pose this question to you: What can we do for our country?
Good health is the greatest wealth someone can ever have. A closer look at our environment speaks volumes about our country in relation to cleanliness. As Zambians we have not invested much time and efforts in keeping our surroundings clean. A scholar from the University of Zambia Ridgeway campus once said: “Endemic epidemic, hyper epidemic or pandemic are all challenges posed to mankind by inadequate management of the environmental factors.Dating back to 1831, Britain recognised the set of sanitarians to control the worst cholera outbreak obviously considering that 70 percent of health problems are married with the environment.”
From the leadership perspective, I would suggest that our members of Parliament should kick-start the campaigns in their various constituencies and observe the first Saturday of every month by making it mandatory for everyone to participate and shoulder the environmental responsibility of keeping Zambia clean. District commissioners must also spearhead this campaign in their districts. Ward councillors must ensure that the citizens in their wards are educated about environmental health in keeping their surroundings and drainages clean.
Let us not wait for our lawmakers and civic leaders to do everything for us; we can take the mantle in our hands and start walking the talk.
Every now and again we hear about environmental pollution. What usually comes to our mind is that the big industries are responsible for pollution of air, water and the environment. Actually, you and I are to a large extent equally responsible for the dirty environment we are living in today. It starts by minding little things like banana peels and groundnut shells, amomg others. The question is, who is responsible for the dirty environment we are living in today?
As a nation, we need incremental transformation of the mindset. We need to develop an attitude that will enable us to treat our environment affectionately. As much as we have hired service providers responsible for cleaning the city, it is our responsibility, too. Let us all stand up and be counted. Let us be ambassadors and champion the cause for a better, clean, green and healthy Zambia. Remember, we do not have another Zambia; therefore, we must not fail to look after this beautiful country properly.
To the bus drivers and conductors, I would like to challenge you to continue carrying rubbish bins in your public buses and ensure that none of the passengers in your bus throws litter through the window. Make it a habit to educate your passengers and always empty your bins at the designated sites.
I would like to challenge the vendors operating in various trading areas to carefully think about safe disposal of pieces of papers, plastics and other unwanted materials in their custody.
Let us keep public places and other areas such as roadsides, drainages and waterways clean. We must carefully dispose of dead pets such as dogs and cats. Some citizens have unhealthy habits of spitting in public places and everywhere, hence causing a health hazard to others.
This clearly shows a lack of serious concern for others. Let us all take full responsibility of our environment. Unless we assume our full environmental responsibilities, we cannot blame the government for not doing enough.
The supply chain of service delivery to our communities should not be disrupted. The moment it is discontinued, garbage will undoubtedly accumulate again. A clean environment has the potential to improve the socio-economic position of a country and significantly fosters national development.
If diseases associated with unhygienic living are eradicated, the nation would reduce its huge expenditure on medical supplies and avoid emergence procurement of health associated materials which come at a huge cost.
Shining examples of clean cities in central and southern Africa include Windhoek (Namibia), Gaborone (Botswana), Cape Town (South Africa) and Kigali (Rwanda). Most of you are shocked to hear about Kigali, because what comes to your mind is the period of genocide. The city is now one of the cleanest cities in Africa, if not the cleanest, according to Africa Oye.
“United we stand, divided we fall,” they say. Let us put our hands together and put Zambia on the list of cleanest towns in Africa and beyond. Inclusiveness of all professionals from var ious profes s i o n s , individuals, churches, institutions (public/private), civil society and the cooperate world is substantially required to symbiotically, as opposed to antagonistically, work collaboratively.
Let us make Zambia a healthy nation for a healthy people to foster national development.
The author is immediate past chairperson for Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (CIPS) Zambia.