IT IS certainly embarrassing that in this day and age, Zambia is still grappling with cholera, which the World Health Organisation (WHO) says remains a global threat to public health and an indicator of inequity and lack of social development.
Going by WHO’s latter description of cholera, Zambia has lately made huge progress to eliminate inequity and lack of social development, especially in the capital city, Lusaka.
Lusaka is one of Africa’s fastest-growing cities. It ranks among others like Kigali in Rwanda and Addis Ababa in Ethiopia.
However, unlike Addis Ababa and Kigali, which have declared zero-tolerance to slums, Lusaka is still grappling with how to deal with a problem that is a source of all kinds of problems ranging from health to crime.
Little wonder 53 years after independence, residents in some shanty townships are still drawing water from shallow wells bordering pit-latrines.
These amenities, among others, are surely not only a misfit in a transforming city such as Lusaka, which is depicting the aspects of 21st century life, but are hotspots for cholera.
Such amenities have made the work of health authorities very difficult in eliminating cholera and other diseases.
In fact, unplanned settlements have made it extremely difficult for Government to deliver social services such as water, roads, schools and health centres.
That is why we agree with President Lungu that all shanty townships should be upgraded so that the infrastructure and social development taking place in the country resonate with every corner of the country.
President Lungu’s pronouncement last week to upgrade shanty townships represents Government’s political will to uplift the living standards of the people living there.
Following President Lungu’s declaration to upgrade the shanty townships, we expect the Ministry of Local Government and Housing through local authorities to begin to implement the directive by coming up with a smart road-map.
Lusaka City Council, for instance, should know that Addis Ababa and Kigali did not just become fast-growing cities overnight.
There was political will, vision and planning.
With President Lungu demonstrating the political will, the rest remains with LCC and other local authorities to actualise.
Lusaka residents cannot wait to see Chibolya, Old Garden, John Laing and Misisi townships become consummate and modern areas with mushrooming skyscrapers.
Lusaka residents are eager to see their greater city become one of the most upcoming world decent cities.
With the booming real estate sector, there is no reason why Lusaka, Ndola, Chipata, Kitwe as well as other cities and municipalities should not become well-designed cities with every amenity at residents’ disposal.
We cannot as a country continue to grapple with cholera every rainy season when there are other challenges that deserve such attention.
There is need for change of mindset among citizens if the war against cholera is to be won.
There is no dignity in being cholera-riddled every year, losing lives and spending colossal sums of money on eradicating a disease associated with lack of hygiene.
The money currently being invested in tackling cholera should be directed to other needy areas. Unfortunately, because cholera is a matter of life and death, it is inevitable to shift attention to tackling the deadly disease.
Upgrading shanty townships and changing the mindset hold the key to eliminating cholera – once and for all.
Let Zambia be a cholera-free country.