Our water, sanitation, and hygiene team respond to a sanitation crisis in Zambia
Peter Burr Catherine Salmon Sophie Ellerker Shona Jenkins
Lusaka Province, Zambia, is suffering from a sanitation crisis that claims lives through annual outbreaks of cholera, typhoid, and dysentery, and causes severe environmental pollution. In response, the African Development Bank (AfDB) is funding the government's Lusaka Sanitation Program. The programme will be implemented by the Lusaka Water and Sewerage Company (LWSC) from 2016 to 2020 in Lusaka City. The programme aims to provide a holistic and integrated social marketing approach and process for mobilising communities and promoting behaviour change towards sanitation, hygiene and education at both community/institutional and household levels.
To help LWSC fulfill their mandate, we are collaborating with EXP Social Marketing (Zambia) and Ansco Groundwater (Zambia) to improve the overall quality of sanitation and hygiene in Lusaka. We are taking a multi-faceted approach to improving the overall quality of sanitation and hygiene in Lusaka, including both demand-side and supply-side activities covering elements of behaviour change and infrastructure development.
An estimated 70% of Lusaka’s 2 million residents live in peri-urban areas (informal settlements), most of which have poor sanitation. About 90% of the peri urban population use on-site latrines, most of which are in a poor condition. Sharing of the latrines is also common practice, especially for those who do not have a facility on their property. Investment in hygienic behaviour is a cost-effective mechanism to improve public health and reduce the incidence of waterborne diseases, but requires an approach that addresses the complexity of behavioural change. Increased demand for improved sanitation and hygiene practices must go hand-in-hand with increased capacity on the supply side of sanitation infrastructure and technical knowledge.
In this project, we and our partners are taking a multi-pronged approach to improving the overall quality of sanitation and hygiene in Lusaka, including both demand-side and supply-side activities covering elements of behaviour change and infrastructure development.
On the demand side, the OPM-led team is implementing a social marketing behaviour change communication campaign in communities, schools, health centres, and churches across Lusaka. This is being run alongside a comprehensive sanitation marketing strategy specifically designed to market the products of local masons, to ensure that supply effectively meets demand.
On the supply side, project activities include the capacity building of local leaders and ward-level representatives, technical and marketing training for community–based toilet masons, and the supervision of the construction of 2,000 household toilets and well as 100 public toilets.
This project aims to reduce the transmission of faecal oral diseases (such as diarrhoeal disease and intestinal worms) and reduce the risk of future cholera outbreaks by improving sanitation and hygiene behaviour and breaking the cycle of faecal contamination of the ground water (which is often abstracted through private boreholes/shallow wells for drinking purpose).
Efforts made during the implementation phase of this project that aim to increase the capacity of supply- and demand-side actors in sanitation and hygiene provision will be integral to reshaping long-term behavioural change in Lusaka. The long-term impact of the project is expected to lead to improvement to overall health of the population and a gradual but persistent reduction in stunting of future generations.