GWANDA: While many people take toilets for granted, it is not the case for Enesia Moyo who for the past 40 years has been using a thorny bush near her homestead as her ablution facility.
According to the National 2012 Census by the Zimbabwe Statistics Agency Enesia Moyo was among the country’s 1, 6 million out of the 13 million national population that has no access to any form of toilet facility and relieve themselves in the open.
“For many years, we had no toilets here. We used to go to a nearby bush. The area here is arid, we only have thorny bushes and it very difficult to hide in the area.
“It was common to see children peeping through while one relive self,” she said.
Another rural Gwanda resident Alphios Ncube said at one point they had to use umbrellas.
“The situation was so dire that at times we had to use umbrellas while in the bush. The problem was that when rains came all the waste will be washed into our sources of drinking water,” he said.
However, open defaecation is a thing of the past for both Ncube and Moyo as they are now proud owner of clean latrines thanks to European Union that funded the project while Moriti oa Sechaba Trust and Practical Action are implemented it in Gwanda’s nine wards.
“Most households in our area now have clean Blair toilets and our hygiene has improved,” added Ncube.
Africa Caribbean Pacific European Union Water Facility Programme (ACP-EU WFP) 2011 invested more than US$15 million to improve access to clean water and safe sanitation and hygiene practices in Zimbabwe.
Access to water and sanitation is a fundamental human right enshrined in the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
Thus the European Union’s Third Water Facility programme is helping seven Zimbabwean districts realize this human right by providing them with access to potable safe water and sanitation.
The water facility programme trained 122 builders who are now generating income by constructing toilets in their area.
“My life has really changed. I was unemployed. I am now able to pay school fees for my children. Some men do not appreciate what I do. They say toilets should not be built by women. They say women should not be involved in construction because such duties are for men. But I think as women we must be self-sufficient. We must learn to build for ourselves,” said Ellen, one of the women builders in Gwanda.
To date 1 570 community latrines have been constructed by builders like Ellen in Gwanda.
Moriti Oa Sechaba Trust programmes manager, Paul Mabanga said the water and sanitation situation within the targeted nine wards in Gwanda district has improved as compared to a few years ago.
He said 70 out of 100 water points have been rehabilitated while 268 out of 300 have been repaired to date. This has benefited more than 21 000 households and 50 000 livestock. A total of 15 boreholes were also drilled for the benefit of a target of 800 households.
“As far as dealing with the problems of open defecation is concerned, a total of 1 470 out of 1 600 toilets have been completed to date. Each of the nine wards has an average 178 toilets. A total of 10 schools benefited from the project with each getting 20 toilets. The toilets are directly benefiting more than 4 000 students and teachers as well as more than 20 000 people indirectly,” Mabanga said.
Practical Action representative Zivanai Kisimisi said the programme had completely change the people’s way of life.
At its inception, Gwanda district had 527 boreholes of which 243 were functioning while 196 broke down and 88 has dried up.
The district had 561 deep wells but 30 of them have dried up.
Of the 21 158 households in the district only 7 235 have well ventilated toilets.