Analysis: ROBBIE MUSAKUZI
THE recent relaunch of ‘Make Zambia Clean, Green and Healthy’ campaign has the potential if well executed to make the lives of ordinary Zambians better, especially if it targets to reduce the risks and vulnerability to hazards in urban and rural communities in Zambia.Risks and vulnerability to hazards which are the major causes of diseases or morbidity in the Zambian society.
Visiting local compounds and townships around the country, it is evident that there is a general loss of the causal relationship between clean, green and personal health in most Zambians. And that is why it is the hope of many Zambians that the ‘Make Zambia Clean, Green and Healthy’ campaign has drawn lessons and made implementation improvements from the decade long ‘Keep Zambia Clean’ campaign which was first launched in 2007 by late President Levy Mwanawasa (MHSRIP).
Those tasked to implement the ‘Make Zambia Clean, Green and Healthy’ campaign can seek guidance from the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), and especially from a book published in 2004 called Living with Risk: A Global Review of Disaster Reduction Initiatives.
It provides guidance, policy orientation and inspiration and serves as a reference on how to reduce risk and vulnerability to hazards and disasters in societies throughout the world.
The intention UNISDR in publishing this book was for government experts and ordinary people to understand that natural and man-made hazards can affect anyone anywhere and that people are threatened by hazards because of their cultural, social, economic practices and environmental vulnerability.
If the relaunched campaign by Government is to succeed, it will have to target certain cultural, social, economic and environmental behaviours and practices in the people who create risks and vulnerability and work against a clean, green and healthy environment. This is the part that the Keep Zambia Clean campaign failed to take into consideration during its implementation. In the last three decades, Zambia as a country has had to deal with repeated and devastating disasters from droughts, floods and waterborne diseases due mainly to human made hazards where life has been lost and yet if certain measures had been implemented some of these disasters could have been avoided or mitigated.
Zambia is not the only country in the third world or developing countries because of the global effect that has launched the clean, green and healthy campaign and therefore it has several friendly countries around the world such as India from which to learn lessons and share ideas on how to make this campaign successful and be well integrated in future national development plans.
Disaster risk reduction through clean, green and healthy campaign concerns everyone in Zambia and not just some sections of society.
Some countries such as India have included education and literacy as part of the campaign with a premise that without education it is difficult to change the mindset of people on clean, green and health issues. For many generations, societies including the Zambian, have taught that personal cleanliness and hygiene is important but with very little emphasis on a clean, green and healthy environment.
From a tender age everyone is taught at home, community and school to bath regularly, brush teeth, wash clothes, beddings and sweep the house and drive clean and smart cars.
Government must therefore realise that it will again have to take education, financial resources and working with the print and electronic media to change the mindset of Zambians that a clean, green and healthy environment is just as important as personal health and hygiene.
Just as it has now become a norm in Zambia regardless of status and the economic situation to spend meagre personal financial resources on personal cleanliness and beauty in barbershops, salons and boutiques, the same attention needs to be given to the clean, green and healthy surrounding environment because the two are inextricably inter twined.
For the Zambian government, this campaign if sustainably driven with a full time secretariat which is a requirement to implement an important and successful campaign, it has the potential to reduce vulnerability and risks to hazards, protect the environment, save meagre resources that go into disaster management, reduce the national medical bill and free resources for other needy areas of national socio-economic development.
It is also important to note that the decision to relaunch the ‘Make Zambia Clean, Green and Healthy’ campaign was a wise decision and investment by President Lungu, the onus now remains on all Zambians to take ownership of this campaign and keep party politics away because the consequences of not reducing living with hazards in communities as was recently experienced in the cholera outbreak in Lusaka and other parts of the country is a serious disruption and functioning of communities, society and the nation and widespread human suffering, material and businesses losses which up to now for many has exceeded the ability to recover.
The author is International Associate, African Centre for Disaster Studies.
Analysis: ROBBIE MUSAKUZI