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What a Policy Maker Would Use to Adress the Problem of Poor Sanitation in Lungen Village of Chief Mpezeni's Area

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In September 2000, the 189 member countries of the United Nations at that time adopted eight Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s). The eight goals are ambitious, and involve among others halving the number of people without clean water and sanitation by 2015. The challenges in meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s) target for sanitation in Zambia by 2015 are many and include the large numbers of temporary latrines, low capacity for sanitation promotion in the country, weak policies and strategies for sanitation promotion, low support for sanitation in donor supported programs, social resistance to the use of the latrines, and lack of multi-sectoral partnerships for sanitation promotion.
This paper endeavours to outline and discuss the sequential platform of activities in the policy process which the policy maker would use to address the problem of poor sanitation in Luangeni Village of Chief Mpezeni’s area. The essay also attempts to establish the seriousness of the problem of poor sanitation in the village by presenting statistical evidence. In order to fully comprehend and come up with solutions concerning the topic under discussion it is imperative that we understand some key concepts to be used in this essay, these include policy, policy makers and sanitation.
Development policy making lies within the domain of the state. The word policy however has no single defination in literature, this is so because there are different points of view and diverging opinions and definitions from various scholars. Goffrey Vickers (1965) defines policy as decisions that give guidance, coherence and continuity to policy actions for which the decision making body is responsible. Rothblatt (1974:370) defines policy as goal statements specifically adressing the known problems and opportunies associated with a policy area. Nonetheless all these definitions of policy tend to have three common elements; they focus on goals or objectives,the course of action and on directions or directives.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) Sanitation generally refers to the provision of facilities and services for the safe disposal of human urine and faeces. Inadequate sanitation is a major cause of disease world-wide and improving sanitation is known to have a significant beneficial impact on health both in households and across communities. The word 'sanitation' also refers to the maintenance of hygienic conditions, through services such as garbage collection and waste disposal.
The border town of Chipata is divided into four constituencies namely Chipata Central, Luangeni, Kasenengwa and Chipangali. Out of the four constituencies, Luangeni can be described as being more rural because of the geographical terrain where it is situated. Slowly but surely, the constituency has seen gigantic economic spill-overs from the tremendous economic activities that have taken place in the province. The area has a population of about 20,908 people and approximately about 4,224 households and out of these only 757 households have access to pit latrines. (CDC, 2013)
Rural areas of Zambia are an under-served sector in terms of sanitation. Fewer than 15% of people have access to a hygienic toilet. Access to reliable, safe and sustainable sanitation and water services is limited with only 40% of people using a protected water source. The poor sanitation coverage in rural areas remains a big threat to the achievement of the millennium development goals (MDG) sanitation target in Zambia. This is because most of the rural communities don’t have any form of toilet facility. The cost of not having toilets and practicing good hygiene on the country’s growth and economic development is significant. According to the WHO/UNICEF (2007) in Zambia, only 37% of the rural population had access to safe water, and only 13% had access to adequate sanitation in 2005. In other words, 4.8 million people in rural areas do not have access to safe water supply and 7 million people lack adequate sanitation facilities.
The Zambia MDG Progress Report for 2008 suggests that while the targets in respect to access to an improved water source will mostly be met by 2015, the access to improved sanitation poses a formidable challenge (GRZ/UNDP, 2008). The biggest challenge to meeting the sanitation MDG target is that most rural pit latrines are temporary (and so are their houses) and need to be replaced frequently to maintain the access and coverage. The other challenges include the socioeconomic, type and cost of facilities, technical capacity, and geo-environmental influences. (Nyangu, 2008).
In Zambia, the sanitation sector has been constrained by many problems including lack of a comprehensive sector policy and inherent weaknesses in the institutional, legislative and organisational framework of the sector. In an effort to reverse this situation, the government of Zambia instituted a Water Sector Reform Programme in 1993 with the aim to establish policies, strategies and institutions better able to improve the quality of life and productivity of its people. There are a significant number of policies, strategies and legal provisions developed over the years but none of these are specific to sanitation and water supply issues tend to dominate within the sector policies (Nyangu, 2008).
Access to clean water and adequate sanitation are critical in tackling factors related to child mortality and survival, especially given the prevalence of diarrhoea and waterborne diseases and the role of sanitary health practices in preventative and sustainable responses. Diarrhoea is a major cause of childhood illness and cholera an annual threat in both urban and rural areas due to recurrent flooding. Developing materials and distributing messages inculcating prevention measures are needed on an ongoing basis, using all available media, including community radio for outreach. An estimated 4.8 million Zambians live without access to clean water and 6.6 million lack access to sanitation. (UNICEF, 2010) POLICY OPTIONS The policy making process is not a linear one, instead it is cyclical representing a continous spiral. It can be divided into the following discrete common phases; policy initiation, policy process design, policy analysis, policy formulation, policy decision, policy dialogue, policy implementation and lastly policy implementation and evaluation. However in this paper emphasis will be directed on policy initiation and analysis, policy implementation as well as evaluation.
The problem of poor sanitation is nation-wide. Therefore there is need by the policy makers to come up with solutions or policies that will address the problem of sanitation in chief Mpezeni’s area. The aim of the policy should be to come up with measures or solutions that will reduce all the sanitation problems currently being faced by the residents of the village and to reduce substantially the number of people that dont ha ve access to good sanitation facilities.
Raising the profile of sanitation, the national consitution states that it is the duty of every citizen to create and protect a clear and healthy enviroment. One of the ways of trying to achieve this would be to introduce the villagers to the idea of digging pit latrines to use as toilets instead of using the bush or the nearby streams. This could be done by training local builders on the proper ways of building pit latrines such as building near anthills and pit lining so as to prevent structures from collapsing. This would reduce the contamination of streams which are a source of the village’s drinking water and for all other domestic usage. This process would also be cheaper for the locals as no foreign inputs are needed for the exercise. However, this solution is not a long lasting situation because after some time there would be need for the construction of another pit latrine as a result of the other one being full. This process would become a phenomenon and in no time the whole village would be full of pit latrines.
One other way of improving sanitation in terms of good toilet facilities would be to lobby the government throught the local authorities to introduce mobile toilets and chlorine for drinking water to the residents of Luangeni village. This would be a very good way of dealing with the waste material as it would ensure that waste products are disposed off in a hygienic manner. One disadvantage of implementing this kind of policy would be that it would be expensive to organize and costly to maintain. This is because mobile toilets need to be maintained and cleaned regularly. Some residents might have negative notions about the effects of chlorine and hence might not accept to use it. Coming up with such a policy would also mean that it would have to be implemented through out the country and this would be too costly for the government to implement.
In Zambia, water supplied through the public water supply systems is normally chlorinated and is assumed to be safe for drinking. When people lack clean and safe drinking water, both consumption and production activities, human development is unlikely to improve. One way of improving the amount of clean water that the people of Luangeni have access to is by encouraging the construction of water kiosks or selling points of water. Access to safe and clean drinking water for consumption is critical in ensuring healthy and quality lives. Appropriate water sanitation prevents the out-break of perennial poverty disease associated with poor hygiene such as cholera and dysentery. (, 2013)
In addressing the drinking water crisis the policy maker could introduce the locals to the idea of digging wells or protected boreholes as a source of the water for domestic usage and drinking. This would be safer as compared to the status quo where the locals use streams which they also use for washing and waste disposal. Improving rural sanitation, including use of quality toilets, could save thousands of lives every year, bringing about increases in productivity and economic development, adding that it can further reduce diarrhea diseases, one of the leading causes of child mortality in Zambia. Once in place the policy will address all issues concerning sanitation including disposal of human waste and construction of quality toilets. (Lusaka Times, 2013)
Sanitation affects men, women and children in different extents but it is generally worse for women simply because the problems of proximity for urination and defeacation are especially acute for women and adolescent girls and are heightened during menstruation. Hence regarding the issues of waste disposal, the pit latrine plays an important role in alleviating sanitation problems in rural areas. Far more people lack access to a properly managed toilet or latrine, than to water. In a recent survey, only a third of schools had adequate sanitation and separate toilets for girls. In another study, latrines designed for use by 30 to 40 pupils, in reality served as many as 180. A lack of separate sanitation facilities for girls has been cited as a prime cause of girls leaving school before finishing their studies (WHO, 1997).
Addittionaly the policy makers would also encourage the residents to come up with a local water supply scheme. The scheme will comprise boreholes (located within the community area) supplying a distribution center (comprised of ground tanks, pumping station, and an overhead reservoir and chlorination facility) which is to supply to communal water points by gravity. This infrastructure will be provided by the municipal council from the government funding. The scheme would be made up of a committee of local residents elected by the community working in collaboration with the Eastern Water and Sanitation company. Under this local scheme each household buys a water coupon every month at a minimal subsidized fee as most villagers would not be able to afford high fees. When a member goes to the taps they present their card and withdraw the daily maximum. In cases where some people cant pay the monthly fee they are allowed to withdraw water at a fee per container. The monies realised are used for maintenance and treatment of the water and the water plants. To ensure the project is working according to plan monitors would be placed in strategic zones to report any irregularities. This kind of a project is one that has already been tried, tested and has proven to be a effective in George Compound of Lusaka. (WASH News Africa, 2010)
The problem of human waste disposal would then be easy to deal with if the residents of Luangeni are provided with access to water. This is because the policy makers would then be in a better position to lobby for the construction of permanent flushable toilets. This would be the best remedy for the problem currently being faced in the Village.
From the arguements and policy suggestions presented above it can be said that crystal the best possible solution to the problem of sanitation in Luangeni is coming up with a water supply scheme that would directly involve the locals of that area. This could be achieved in various ways, as policymakers we could present the proposal to the office of the area Member of Parliament in order for funds to be allocated to the project from the Constituency Development Fund (CDF). Another way of effecting this could be to engage corporate firms especially the ones operating in the district such as Airtel, Zamtel, Shoprite to come on board as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) to carry out the project.
Polices can only be implemented if the capacity to do so exists. This capacity includes material, financial, managerial, bureaucratic and technical resources. Hence in implementing this policy the policy maker first needs to invite other stakeholders such as the government and others organisations to analyse the possibility of implementing such kind of a program. After the analysis they can also make submissions on how the policy ought to be structured and what is supposed to be included. After this the policy maker starts to organize start up or long term funds for the project. These funds can be provided by the government through the Ministry of Local Government and Housing. Whenever a gap between policy formulation and implementation exists such efforts are rendered useless.
The local community could also play a major role in implementing these policies.The policy makers may organise a group of local people to be in charge of the water scheme. The group needs to be told clearly the incentives of being part of the project, one of the incentives could be that they will be getting free water once that scheme is fully operational. They also need to be told clearly what some of the implications would be if they decided to engage in corrupt practices or if they used the money collected for personal gains.
After the policies have been succesfully implemented, it follows that policy monitoring and evaluation should take place. This measures the degree of success of policy implementation and point to new directions for the future.
In conclusion, poor sanitation which has always been associated with rural areas has negative effects on the well being on people and the national economy as a whole. The cost of poor sanitation includes the discouragement of tourist trade, degradation of the enviroment by the indiscriminate disposal of solid and liquid waste and the pollution of fresh water and lakes by untreated human waste. As such it is of utmost importance that the policy makers, local government councils, development committes, local community and other stakeholders to work together in implementing policies that will improve the level of sanitation in Luageni village.


Chipata District Council. (2013). May 2013 Report. Lusaka:Zambia.
GRZ/UNDP. (2008). Zambia Millennium Development Goals Progress Report. The government of Zambia; Ministry of Finance and National Planning.
Lungu A. (2013). Amadoda Fights Water Blues in Luageni Village. Lusaka.
Nyangu R. (2008). The Sanitation In Zambia. NGO Forum: Lusaka. 2013 Friday May 2013.…...

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