Letter to the Editor

Persistent cholera outbreak in Lusaka worrying

Dear editor,
THE continued flooding of most of the parts of Lusaka can be attributed to the hydrogeology of the city.

The city is built on dolomite. This has been compounded by the poor town planning of the city. The uncoordinated construction of houses and wall fences makes the problem even worse.
More than that, the authorities have allowed people to dig pit latrines in their yards. Most of the households in the city of Lusaka have pit latrines. This is the reason there are outbreaks of chorea every year because these floods act as carriers of pathogens from pit latrines and spread them throughout the city. Many of these pit latrines are even full and abandoned. Many lives have been lost and the economic activity of the city is slowed down because people cannot freely buy and sell foodstuffs.
The government is spending lots of money on drugs for the sick and trying to contain these outbreaks. But why should the government always take a reactive approach to this somewhat perennial problem instead of being proactive and prevent the recurrence of these outbreaks?
Under Chapter 100 of the Local Government Act Cap 281 the indiscriminate disposal of solid waste is an offence. Statutory Instrument No.125 of 2001 on hazardous waste management regulations which also encompasses the Environmental Protection and Pollution Control Act No 12 of 1990 also provides a legal framework regarding sanitation and hygiene.
The recent revelation by the Lusaka Water and Sewerage company that underground water is no longer safe for drinking without treatment is alarming. The water utility company also revealed that out of the 400,000 households only 33,000 are serviced by the system.
The lasting solution would be to forbid the use of pit latrines in Lusaka city in accordance with these pieces of legislation.
According to the local government act, it is the responsibility of the local authority to provide good sanitation to the people. Sanitech, a division of WACO Africa (with branches in Lusaka and Kitwe), provides decent portable toilets for hire.
The local authority can go into a contract with Sanitech to be providing portable toilets in the high-density compounds of Lusaka so that people stop using pit latrines. This ISO accredited (ISO 14001 & ISO 18001) company also does septic pumping services. The South African government has been providing decent sanitation and hygiene solutions to its citizens in informal settlements where there are no permanent sanitation facilities using Sanitech.
This has effectively improved the sanitation in these settlements and greatly reduced disease outbreaks. The government of Zambia, through its local authorities, can also emulate this so that these outbreaks are minimised if not completely halted.
MSC Environmental MGT, MEIZ
Environmental activist

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