Open Defecation Highest in Mat North

MATEBELELAND North recorded the highest number of households still practicing open defecation in the period 2018 to 2019, a Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZimVAC) survey has reported.

By Michael Gwarisa

According to the report, 60% of households in Mat North practice open defecation against a 33% national defecation rate.

Open defecation was practiced by 33% of households nationally, with the highest proportion being in Matabeleland North was 60%. Binga had the highest proportion of households was 74.3% practising open defecation. Twelve districts had more than 50% of households practising open defecation at the time of the assessment.

“Open defecation increases the risk of the spread of infectious diarrhoeal diseases such as cholera,” said the report.

Mat North is followed by Mashonland West which has a 42% open defecation rate, followed by Midlands province with 41%, Masvingo 35%, Mashonaland East 21%, Manicaland 19%, Mashonaland Central 14 against a national open defecation rate of 33%.

“The proportion of households which accessed basic sanitation services was 45%. Mashonaland Central had the highest proportion of households (20%) using unimproved sanitation services.”

The report also indicated that nationally 98% of households did not have basic hygiene services.

“Presence of a hygiene services at the toilet has been proven to increase the likelihood of washing hands immediately after toilet use.

“The proportion of households without hand washing facilities at their toilets was more than 80% in all districts of the country. In order to meet the SDG 6 target, there is need for accelerated actions towards handwashing facilities,” added the report.

The most observed critical times for handwashing were after using the toilet and before eating food 87%; followed by before handling food was 71.5%.

Meanwhile, the report also indicated that access to clean water at a national level was still a challenge with indications on the ground showing that villagers in most parts of the country still travel long distances to fetch water.

“The proportion of households using unimproved water is highest in Gokwe North (64%), Muzarabani and Gokwe South was 54% and 47% respectively. Mangwe District had the highest proportion of households (38.5%) that utilized surface water as a source of drinking water.

“Other districts with relatively high usage of surface water included Gwanda (30%); Binga (26.9%) and Insiza (25.9%). Surface water sources are easily polluted or contaminated with chemicals, faecal matter and microorganisms that cause waterborne diseases.”

Boiling water to make it safer before drinking was practised by 45% of households. Addition of water treatment tablets (aquatab) was the next most popular method of water treatment at 13%.

“Only 12.3% of households using surface water were treating it. According to the Sphere Standards, the maximum distance that any household should travel to the nearest water point is 500m. At least 53% of households travelled less than 500m to the nearest water source, with 16% travelling more than 1 km.”

Matebeleland South had the highest proportion of households traveling more than 1km to access water. Gokwe North had the highest proportion of households (45%) traveling for more than 1 kilometre to access water points.

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