Harare, Zimbabwe(News of the South)-Zimbabwe has developmentally regressed over the past year due to a number of economic challenges whose downward effects have been felt in a number of sectors and areas of the population’s life.
With rapid urbanisation following a different and upward trajectory compared to economic indicators such as GDP and budgetary growth which have been in the red a number of problems have risen.
New locations and towns have popped into existance in areas where they are no sanitation facilities or infrastructure. These have been driven into existence due to land barons corruptly owning land and creating money-making investments into property not followed by the requisite provision of sanitation facilities.
Other politically aligned and ‘owned’ townships with names of politicians and dead liberation heroes have come into existence also lacking the bare essentials of sanitation and thus creating hazardous encampments.
On the outskirts of the capital Harare peri-urban townships, populated by thousands escaping the economically harsh and expensive life of the capital have sprouted with infamous ones such as Caledonia, Whitecliff, Epworth, Caledonia and Hopely hogging attention for the absence of both regulations and sanitation facilities.
This has led to open defecations, building of latrines lacking sustainability and the eruption of diseases such as cholera and typhoid.
Due to this over 4000 people died of cholera after 11 735 cases in a 2008 outbreak that shocked many due to the antiquity of the disease.
Recent years have seen intermittent occurrences of fatal outbreaks of the diseases with grim statistics portraying a country living in the danger zone of tragic happenings.
However new innovative creations to deal with challenges faced in the sanitation sector have provided a glimmer of hope that the scourge of such diseases can be dealt with.
This is also in line with the refocused attention from the micro focus on latrines and latrine construction under the Millennium Development Goals to the enhanced attention on the whole service chain which include latrines, emptying, transportation, disposal and treatment under the Sustainable Development Goals.
Mobile Desludgers have come into the spotlight as a temporary measure that may well avert a number of fatalities in these peri-urban residential areas. Their use has come in handy to deal with sludge that is often too hard for normal honey suckers since most pit sludge is 15% solid content compared to 3% solid content in septic tanks.
MB’s also are useful for instances where latrines are inaccessible due to congestion in high density areas where their is limited space.
According to Welthungerhilfe the funders of one such program the services are also often required ” mostly by institutions such as local authorities, schools and clinics that have limited budgets as well as households with low income”.
The Mobile Desludging Unit (MDU) ,as they are called, are designed to empty pit latrines in the most difficult context and the cost of the operation can be less than 20% of the cost of building a new toilet.
The machine is able to produce pressure over 100 bar so as to fluidise solidified sludge and has a high capacity vacuum pump which can handle thick sludge and solids in the sludge such as plastic,menstrual cloth ad stones.
The MDU’s are also able to fulfil all the mandatory permutations required for a safely managed emptying service.
These include the absence of overflowing sludge that may contaminate the environment an occurrence which accounts for 69% percent of pollution of the environment according to studies in some populated areas such as Dakar in Senegal and Dhaka in Bangladesh. The severity of pollution due to overflows is starkly made apparent when compared to open defecations which account for 1%.
In an effort to deal with these sanitation problems Norto Town Council, Zvimba Rural District Council, Murehwa Town Council and Nyaminyami District Council have all dopted the method of MDU’s with remarkable results helping the council save money.
The program to incorporate MDU’s as part of the country’s fight against sanitation challenges has already drawn the attention and support of Ministers of Environment, Health and Local Government ,Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, David Parirenyatwa and Saviour Kasukuwere respectively who have addressed conferences and workshops focusing on the problems of sludge disposal.
Mark Harper, the Welthungerhilfe Country Director, says the the use of MDU’s provides an apt resolution to the developmental challenges that Zimbabwe is facing today.
“It’s a convenient way of dealing with the problems facing the country in the areas of sanitation as it is both cheap and easy”, he says.
Zim Earthworm Farms another innovative firm has gone ahead and created a new form of waste management system which is called the Jati Aerobic Waste Management System which is also being used in the peri-urban areas such as Caledonia.
The system treats gray and black wastewater which are recycled by the Vermimo system powered by earthworms.
According to Dr Whingwiri ” biodegradable are composted thermophilically and then vermicomposted using earthworms. Three bags are used one to collect paper,cardboard, newspaper; the second to receive plastics and the third glass” he says.
The biodegradable from the Jati system produce a rich organic fertiliser which can be used in the garden or even sold.
With Zimbabwe facing elections next year more populist actions are expected and the doling out of unserviced stands will likely increase leading to more sanitation challenges. However with more funding from supporting organisations such as Australian Aid, Welthungerhilfe and Institute of Water and Sanitation Development the peri-urban towns of Zimbabwe may be saved from the perils of cholera and typhoid.
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