A recent baseline survey conducted by Malawi Red Cross Society through Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Project has revealed that most toilets in the peri-urban areas in Mzuzu City are not properly constructed such that they do not accord the users the needed privacy and hygiene.
The situation is said to be creating unhygienic conditions in the city as a good number of residents prefer to use any bushy place they may come by to answer the call of nature.
The survey, which was conducted in November 2014 and whose results came out in February 2015, among other things, found out that 92 percent of the households in the city had latrines but eight per cent were using bushes to relieve themselves.
The survey also found out that most tenants in Mzuzu City live in houses that do not have toilets, while others have toilets which are not well covered for privacy and in most cases not clean.
The unsanitary conditions for such toilets force the would-be users to shun them and opt for bushy places to relieve themselves.
Speaking in an interview with Mana, one of the tenants at Chithira in Mchengautuba Township, Grace Manda, said since she came to live in the house her landlord has never built a toilet.
“Since I came to live here ten years ago, there has never been a toilet and if we complain to our landlord, nothing is done. We have been using our neighbours’ toilets,” said Manda.
She further said sometimes neighbours deny them access to use their toilets, which gives them no choice but to look for a bush which provides enough privacy to relieve themselves.
During a recent workshop WASH project organized to present findings of the baseline survey conducted in the city in November (2014), WASH Project manager, Louis Mwalwanda, said the survey showed that most landlords have kept tenants in their rented houses for years without toilets.
He also said while some households do not have toilets, others feel the toilets they have are not private enough for them to be comfortable, hence their preference to unhygienic ways of answering the call of nature.
Asked on how Malawi Red Cross is addressing such issues, WASH Programme Manager, Colex Chapendeka, said his organisation has a project targeting semi urban areas in the city of Mzuzu and Karonga on hygiene issues.
“In WASH project we are dealing with a number of issues and hygiene, which deals with households including toilets, will be addressed,” he said, stressing the importance of a toilet in averting diseases that emanate from unsanitary conditions.
Chapendeka said sensitizing and encouraging communities to have toilets is one of the important tasks WASH Project undertakes.
Apart from presenting the survey findings, the workshop participants which were drawn from health, education and Red Cross volunteers developed messages that would assist households to take heed of their surroundings and how best to construct and use their toilets.
“The project is an integrated one as it cuts across many areas, involvement of different stakeholders is of great significance as we will not only target households but also school going children who will pass on the message to their parents,” said Chapendeka.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :