Farm block sanitation through the eyes of a community champion

By Maswabi Precious Matantilo & Tumba Mupango on September 3, 2014 in News, Water and Sanitation Health

Laying on the Great North Road, North East of Kapiri Mposhi in Central province is Mkushi District. With a population of around 150,000, Mkushi is well known for its commercial farms. It has since become one of Zambia’s leading agricultural districts with a consistent bumper harvest of maize, soya beans, tobacco and wheat.

In spite of Mkushi’s addition to Zambia’s GDP, it faces a great challenge in ensuring adequate sanitation for its communities. The farm block areas are no exception as evidenced from what I saw as I travelled through selected parts of the district. One farm we visited was made up of 53 households with a population of 275, yet it shared just four latrines.

One might wonder how this comes to be. Farms are comprised of casual workers and permanent workers, but most farm owners build houses for only the permanent workers. The casual workers are forced to build their own houses and mostly do not build latrines. The housing is unplanned and is done in a temporary, disorderly manner. The workers move to the farms with their families, some farms hosting as many as 80 families.

Community Champion sets high standard

By Scott Russpatrick on July 11, 2014 in News, Water and Sanitation Health

In my work as a Peace Corps Volunteer assigned to the Akros WASH Program, I was recently sent to the Chiefdom of Nalubamba in southern Zambia. We knew from our mHealth database that nearly 80% of the population there was living without adequate sanitation, meaning they did not have any form of toilet or hand washing facilities. I was with one of our community champions named Chris Malambo. He is in his mid 30’s and has the slender build of a Zambian farmer, working most days in the hot maize fields of his small patch of land in Chona Chiefdom. Chris had come along on this visit because there had been difficulty convincing the traditional chief of his villages’ sanitation problem. “We have our own reporting methods showing we have good sanitation and your reports are flawed!” the chief argued when we presented him with our data. Chris had shown a certain gift for changing minds and we would soon see his talents in action.

388,380 Rural Zambians Reached by Akros WASH Team

By Akros Media on January 21, 2014 in News, Water and Sanitation Health

UNICEF and the Zambia Ministry of Local Government and Housing (MLGH) retained Akros last year to revitalize its Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) intervention among rural Zambian villages. The intervention uses a combination of techniques to persuade community members to use latrines. If people use latrines instead of simply defecating in the open, then fecal-based contamination decreases. When latrines are regularly used, communities see a sharp decrease in Cholera, food poisoning, diarrhea, and other illnesses.

To date, WASH surveillance in Zambia has been slow, inaccurate and incomplete. This made it extremely difficult to target the WASH interventions effectively, and to assess whether these actions were having any real impact. UNICEF and MLGH asked Akros to help in August of 2013.

Akros to lead the rapid scale up of WASH surveillance

By Akros Media on July 2, 2013 in News, Water and Sanitation Health

Akros has been retained by UNICEF and Praekelt Foundation to lead the design and rapid deployment of a community-level WASH surveillance system in Zambia. The project will scale to a total of twenty districts in the coming months, and will provide real-time data on WASH-indicators at the village level to MLGH and UNICEF stakeholders. This project builds on Akros prior successes in rapidly scaling up similar community-level surveillance packages with the Zambian Ministry of Health and PATH/MACEPA. Learn more here.

“This surveillance system will provide unprecedented empowerment to the environmental health technicians and community champions supporting progress toward open-defecation free status in their catchment areas”, said Benjamin Winters, Country Director for Akros in Zambia. “Without good, timely information, it is nearly impossible to know where or how to focus interventions. We are drastically changing the game here.”