Source: Bush toilet use rampant in Mat North | The Herald August 27, 2016
Bianca Leboho Herald Reporter
Rural Matabeleland North has the highest rate of open defecation and other poor hygiene behaviours, statistics from an annual Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZimVAC) report for 2016 have revealed. “Nationally, 37 percent of rural households practice open defecation while Matabeleland North has the most serious case of the activity which currently stands at 68 percent,” read the report.
The report further revealed that Zimbabweans living in the rural areas practiced poor handwashing habits, with only less than a percent of the rural population washing their hands after assisting sick people.
It revealed that 44 percent of people who live in rural Zimbabwe washed their hands after using the toilet while only 27 percent of people washed their hands before eating. “Only four percent of the rural populace wash their hands after handling children’s nappies and diapers whilst 24 percent of the populace wash their hands prior to handling food,” exposed the report.
“Water quality, access to proper sanitation and hygienic practices’ levels continue to be of concern across all provinces in the country especially in the rural areas with Matabeleland North being the worst off province for all water, sanitation and hygiene indicators.
“In-depth research is required to understand the causal factors of the relatively high prevalence of open defecation across the country, particularly in Matabeleland North province. “There is need to intensify key hygiene messages targeting hand-washing with soap at critical times.”
The report urged Government to promote demand-led approaches to better hygienic practices needed for effective uptake of interventions, with a particular focus on behaviour change.
It further advised on the need for the repair and rehabilitation of broken down water points as this would reduce the distance travelled by people in search of water and thereby increase the occurrence of water-access related hygienic habits.
“Focus on drilling or construction of new water points to improve access to safe water in the dry regions should be prioritised. “Community-based management around repaired and rehabilitated boreholes and newly constructed water points also needs to be encouraged.”
The report further recommended the use of renewable energy for the motorisation of high yielding boreholes which would in turn reduce the distance travelled by people in rural areas in search of water.
The statistics released by ZimVAC rouse health concerns in the country and threaten a recurrence of recent outbreaks of cholera and typhoid that have previously affected the country.