Minister bemoans open defecation as Mangochi communities use plastic bags as toilets

The negligence to construct toilets has left communities in the lakeshore areas of Mangochi with no option but resorting to open defecation with most of them using plastic bags as latrines.

Many households in the district especially in Fort Maguire area in the T/A Makanjira do not have toilets with health authorities raising alarm of possible waterborne related diseases outbreak.

Fishermen with their families at fishing site, Mambo.
Fishermen with their families at fishing site, Mambo.
MP,Chambo (4 from R) with health officials appreciating fish.
MP,Chambo (4 from R) with health officials appreciating fish.

Minister of Youth and Sports, Grace Obama Chiumia has also  bemoaned the situation, which is in contradictory to government’s effort in eradicating open free defecation under the Open Defecation Free (ODF) Malawi Strategy.

Secretary for Senior Chief Mambo, Robert Amisi said the situation has been aggravated by the presence of fishermen from other parts of the lakeshore especially Salima who are plying their trade in the area.

“There are 180 fishermen from other areas. And these people, since we don’t have toilets are using plastic bags to help themselves,” explained Amisi.

He added: “The plastic bags are either buried in the sand or thrown into the lake from where we draw water for domestic use. And in worse scenarios, the communities are even defecating in the graveyards.”

Amis noted lack of enough health personnel in the area who could assist in civic educating the masses on sanitation and hygiene.

Mangochi District Environmental Health Officer, Kondwani Mamba disclosed they have teamed up with relevant authorities to address the issue.

“Open defecation is one critical issue that needs urgent address from government and other stakeholders. We need to civic educate the masses on sanitation and hygiene,” said Mamba.

MP for the area, Benedicto Chambo who said was using community sensitization meetings to urge people to be on forefront in addressing the situation.

“The problem of open defecation is critical along the lakeshore which needs attention of every Malawian. It’s our priority to reduce deaths that resulted from lack of hygiene,” said Chambo.

Chambo said, with help of the communities, would soon start constructing toilets along the lakeshore as one way of dealing with the situation, which has put lives of people at risk of facing Cholera outbreak.

Minister Chiumia said there was a need to allocate more resources under the approved sanitation bill to address open defecation problem along the lakeshore.

Government is seeking to borrow K9 billion from African Development Bank to construct 450 boreholes and 166 toilets at trading centres and markets across the country, which could help address the situation.

Malawi despite making substantial progress in increasing basic sanitation, about 11 percent of the population is still practising open defecation.

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