The Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) has identified schools as being the key components that could boost the campaign for Total Sanitation for Mkushi district.
National Trainer for CLTS, Moses Mutoka issued this statement to ZANIS when he facilitated for the School Led Total Sanitation (SLTS) program at Mkushi’s Council Motel on May 10th.
Mr Mutoka explained that the essence of the School Led sanitation campaigns is aimed at preparing schools to be agents of triggering off hygiene related behaviour change in the communities.
He said that to this effect, the CLTS had embarked on a program to train some personnel from the school fraternities on matters related to the Total Sanitation efforts.
He said that this Trainer of Trainers (TOT) program was being piloted in Mkushi and Kapiri districts.
Mr Mutoka pointed out that the quest to attain Open Defecation Free (ODF) status was amongst the prime focus areas for this program, adding that the practice of Open Defecation posed a health challenge to the communities.
He said that the program had the full endorsements of government through the Ministries of Local Government as well as Education and was being sponsored by United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
He explained that the schools fraternity had the potential to make a positive impact to the quest to attain ODF status, saying that schools had proved to be ideal platforms to effect behaviour change.
Mr Mutoka maintained that the major challenge that inhibited the success of sanitation campaigns was the mindset of residents.
He said that interventions such as the School Led Total Sanitation (SLTS) were designed to influence a change of attitude towards bad hygiene practices such as Open Defecation, as well as encourage basic hygiene practice such as washing of hands after toilet use.
He revealed that to add some permanency to this program, the SLTS had been designed to culminate into the formation of sanitation committees with representation at schools as well as at District Education Board (DEBS) level.
Mr Mutoka elaborated that the TOT programs had contained theoretical as well as practical exposures that helped to enhance knowledge on the harmful effects of bad hygienic practice such as Open Defecation.
He said that in one of the field tours, the CLTS had taken some participants on a tour to a named farm in Mkushi’s Commercial Farm Block area.
He said that it was saddening to learn that management at this farm had not constructed a toilet in the workers compound which housed about 1000 workers.
Mr Mutoka also disclosed that, management of this farm did not accord any priority towards maintaining a clean surrounding for the workers compound as the grass was never slashed.
He said that owing to the combination of these factors, residents there practiced Open Defecation in the grass thickets that were close to the houses.
He stressed that SLTS was a useful intervention in such circumstances, explaining that all the children of school going age at this farm attended school at Farm Block school.
During a recent interview, District Medical Officer Rosemary Mwanza had confirmed the high incidence rate of diarrhea related cases in areas such as Munshibemba, Nkumbi and Tembwe Wards.
Dr Mwanza had mentioned that although diarrhea related cases were generally common in other parts of the district, the incidence rate in these areas that encompassed the Farm Block was amongst the highest in the district.