UNICEF Pledges More Support Towards WASH in Nsanje
The United Nations International Emergency Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has underscored the need for various partners to join hands in eliminating cholera in Nsanje district.
The district has recorded 16 cases and 21 suspected cholera cases since the onset of the rainy season.
Speaking yesterday prior to Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) field visit in Nsanje, UNICEF Deputy Country Representative, Gerrit Maritz, said the private sector should also play a role in cholera containment.
“All stakeholders including the private sector should be involved. We want the cases to go down to zero.
“We should continue with this collaboration so that we should be able to address gaps in different sectors. We need more impact,” said Maritz who is responsible for programs.
He further hailed the strides made through a K155 million project being co-financed by UNICEF and OXFAM which has triggered communities to construct pit latrines.
The district’s latrine coverage dropped to around 30 percent from 76 percent as a result of Cyclone Freddy but in the area of Senior Chief Tengani, the coverage is said to have moved to 99 percent.
Maritz believes this will make a difference in fighting against cholera in the district urging the communities to do more.
Dilly Mwenda, OXFAM Project Coordinator, responsible for cholera response, has described the project as a success.
“The objective of the project in question is to mitigate cholera mortality and morbidity.
“The focus has been on controlling open defecation in the communities.
“It follows the resurgence of cholera. When we were struck with cholera in the country, Nsanje is one of the districts which was heavily affected,” explained Mwenda.
He attributed the situation to floods which ‘heavily destroyed WASH infrastructure.’
Mwenda further said, “UNICEF consulted Nsanje district council which highlighted that the continued spread of cholera was due to low coverage of pit latrines which resulted in poor hygiene practices.”
He told Zodiak Online that they promoted construction of household pit latrines in 10 Group Village Headmen in Tengani in Nsanje.
According to the OXFAM Project Coordinator responsible for cholera response, they targeted 23,000 in Nsanje.
“So we are here at GVH Lukwa to appreciate progress. When we came here last year the WASH facilities were very low at around 30 percent.
“We engaged the community and have reached up to 99 percent of latrine coverage and the WASH status in all the areas is also impressive,” said Mwenda.
The district’s Director of Health and Social Services Dr. Gilbert Chapweteka has described the interventions as timely.
“At the moment we do not have an active cholera case but then we cannot relax. We have had sporadic cases hence we cannot celebrate. We have to ensure we do not have cases.
“The project has addressed one important element in dealing with cholera which will encourage hygiene in the area,” said Dr. Chapweteka.
He further implored communities to consider constructing disaster resilient toilets saying this can help to prevent destruction of them in the event of natural calamities.
Last rainy season, the district registered over 600 cholera cases with 21 deaths.