Long distances. Tattooed on feet are the many marks which tell a sad story of how the people walk far distances in order to access water for a family.
Unsafe water. Smoothly flowing are streams awaiting the many people that faithfully follow them even though they breed diarrhoea and other diseases.
Unconducive environment. Loud is the voice of a school which screams at pupils and teachers to leave because it reeks of the urine of bats that flood the classrooms.
Chabula Chiefdom has for long lacked access to improved sanitation for households and institutions, improved sustainable access to safe water and access to a conducive learning environment which are essential for ensuring the wellbeing of every child.
Mwape Mulenga, a 14 year old girl of Chabula Chiefdom aspires to be a teacher some day and she complains about how far, unsafe and inconveniencing it was for her as a pupil to go to a stream to fetch water every day.
“Walking long distances to access water was so tiresome and I often used to get sick of diarrhoea whenever I drank the water. Fetching water was also risky in areas because we would sometimes encounter snakes,” Mulenga sadly recalls.
Margarete Mumbi, aged 62 is another community member who recalls the unfortunate events the Chiefdom used to go through.
“The water was usually very dirty because of rains and we would get sick in the end. It was also a challenge for us to take care of our children because we would walk long distances to fetch water and leave the children with no one to take care of them,” she narrates.
Mulenga and Mumbi are however, very grateful for World Vision Zambia (WVZ) having introduced a mechanized water system that greatly helps them overcome the challenges they used to face.
World Vision Zambia has been working with Government in communities around Zambia to breathe life into the sanitation policy and Chabula Chiefdom has fortunately, come to be one of the beneficiaries of the organization’s programmes.
Mumbi explains that the mechanized water system introduced by the organization is a clean and safe water delivery which is helping curb diseases in her community.
“I am so happy that we no longer have to walk far distances to fetch water, I can now access water at my home and my family does not get sick of diseases such as diarrhoea anymore,” she says.
Mumbi adds that the new water facility will also aid the community in farming at the very households.
“We’ll be able to have gardens near at our homes and grow a variety of crops which will help us prepare balanced meals for our children,” she says.
The mechanized water system which was introduced in October this year was worth US$ 90, 000 and is indeed providing relief as it benefitting about 656 households and 1,550 children in Chabula Chiefdom.
Lot Quality Assurance Sampling (LQAS) of Buyantashi area programme reveals a significant reduction in diarrhoeal cases from 21.9% to 19% in 2015 and 2016 respectively and the new water facility is anticipated to help reduce diarrhoeal cases further.
WVZ Luwingu Acting Manager, Jessy Samuyachi notes that the water facility will enhance proper sanitation in households and she explains how WVZ inculcates a culture of good hygiene in community members.
“We sensitize the community on sound hygiene practices such as ensuring that each household has an improved pit latrine, a washing facility where people should wash their hands after using the lavatories and a rubbish pit amongst others,” Samuyachi explains.
This is a success story for Chabula Chiefdom as 90% of its households now have the standard requirements of proper sanitation that are needed for a chiefdom to be declared Open Declaration Free (ODF).
Samuyachi adds that WVZ is constructing ablution blocks at Nsombo Primary School in Chabula Chiefdom to help raise the standards of sanitation at the school.
“Construction of the ablution blocks is almost complete and these facilities will help increase the attendance of children in class hence more children getting educated,” she says.
Chief Chabula of the Bisa people in Luwingu District has also expressed his happiness over WVZ’s efforts in helping his chiefdom attain the ODF status.
“This is indeed a great development for us of which I’m very grateful to the champions of this project and I would like to urge my people to always practice sound hygiene practices,” he says.
This follows after Chief Chabula’s Chiefdom in Buyantashi area programme in Luwingu district was recently declared open defecation free.
Luwingu District Commissioner, Patrick Chanda recently made the declaration during the Open Defecation Free (ODF) celebration held at Nsombo Primary School.
Meanwhile, Chief Chabula has called on Government and NGO’s to help renovate the dilapidated Mwendo Primary School and construct more schools in his Chiefdom.
With disappointment etched in the face of the highly concerned chief, he narrates that government has been called on several times to intervene but the efforts have been to no avail as nothing has been done about the problem being faced.
“Mwando Primary School is a health hazard and the structure is quite unstable such that the building might fall down anytime. Both pupils and teachers rarely go there because of how demotivating it is being there,” Chief Chabula explains.
Mwando Primary School only supports a capacity of about 50 pupils and Chabula residents find it impossible to take their children to the nearest primary school, that is, Nsombo Primary School due to it being as far as 9 kilometers away from Mwando.
These factors trigger the demotivation of children to attend classes and so is the case for another school in the Chiefdom, that is, Lupososhi Secondary School which lacks electricity and water which are essential when ensuring proper sanitation.
It is therefore hoped for that a conducive learning environment is created and proper sanitation in households and schools is sustained as this will greatly enhance improved health status and literacy for children.