ZIO MWALE, Lusaka
MARY Nsofwa, 53, a marketeer at the old Soweto market in Kanyama could not hide her joy on seeing a new clean public toilet near the market.
She is one of the many residents of Kanyama that are benefitting from the Live Clean public toilet initiative that was recently launched in Kanyama near the old Soweto market.
Live Clean is an initiative developed with the support of the UK Department for International Development (DFID) through Kukula Seed and Zambian entrepreneur Mwila Lwando.
“The new toilet is affordable and very clean, even if it’s a fee-paying one, it’s worth it. I am very happy because the toilets are very safe and conducive because they are well taken care of,” Ms Nsofwa said.
“I have been doing business in the market for a very long time now and we had a challenge with the toilets. We thank Government and the Live Clean project for building such a clean and nice flushable toilet. We hope diarrhoeal diseases like cholera will be a thing of the past,” she said.
Another beneficiary, John Kabwe, and a Kanyama resident, shared that he has lived in the area for over 10 years and has never seen a clean public toilet in the community.
“I stay in Kanyama and I sell plastic bag. Normally, I sell them in the old Soweto market but the problem was the use of toilets.Usually when I want to relieve myself, I would rush to any hidden place. For me, that was better than paying for a very dirty toilet,” Mr Kabwe said.
At the launch of Live Clean, speaking on behalf of the Minister of Local Government and Housing Vincent Mwale, Permanent Secretary Amos Malupenga said the project symbolises the importance of providing clean and hygienic sanitation facilities to everyone.
He said the toilets which were constructed from customised modular containers were also environmentally friendly.
“Government is very committed to consistently improve the living standard of people in Zambia. A cornerstone in this commitment is to have clean cities with good sanitation infrastructure in order to create an environment in which people can thrive,” Mr Malupanga said.
He directed the Lusaka City Council and all relevant government institutions to provide full support to the project so that more fee paying public toilets could be opened in the next 12 months.
Co-founder of the project, Mwila Lwando said the Live Clean project will culminate into the creation of fee-paying public toilets and shower facilities in peri-urban areas of Zambia.
The company wants to take part in boosting Zambia’s socio-economic development by providing access to improved sanitation facilities.
The Live Clean sanitation system will also produce bio-fuel and fertiliser using human excreta. Water used in the showers and basins will be recycled for use in the toilets, whereas rainwater will be harvested for use.
“The facilities are not only a much cleaner alternative to existing facilities, but they are also constructed to improve the environmental impact of sanitation using a closed loop strategy and special waste tanks.” Mr Lwando explained.
Director of Kukula Seed and partner in Live Clean Niels Bojsen shared that the Live Clean project will further the empowerment of women in Zambia by providing modern, safe-guarded sanitation facilities that offer an easier, cleaner, and safer alternative to pit latrines and makeshift holes.
“These facilities are quite different because they offer security especially for women and girls, there is a fence around the facility which makes it safe for anyone using the facility,” Mr Bojsen said.
He noted that there is urgent need to improve the existing conditions of public sanitation in Zambia.
“Currently, 70 percent of groundwater in urban Zambia is contaminated and more than 500 people die every year from diseases related to poor sanitation,” he said.
For Live Clean, the new sanitation system will help combat diarrhoeal diseases like cholera that are common in Kanyama.
Mark Richardson, head of office for DFID Zambia, said the UK government is pleased to have invested in this private sector model that provides affordable and high quality water and sanitation facilities for thousands of people in Lusaka.
“In partnership with Kukula Seed and Mwila Lwando, we look forward to working with the Ministry of Local Government and Lusaka City Council to rapidly roll out this sustainable and scalable approach across the city so that many more people can benefit,” Mr Richardson said.
The DFID leads the UK’s work to end extreme poverty in African countries. They are ending the need for aid by creating jobs, unlocking the potential of girls and women and helping to save lives.
ZIO MWALE, Lusaka