Sanitation and hygiene problems in Mwanza
Every day approximately 6000 children die to diarrhoea related diseases, mostly in developing countries in Asia and Africa. According to various estimations there are approximately 2,6 -3 billion people living without proper sanitation.
While working in Tampere-Mwanza Local Governance cooperation project in Tanzania, we (the trainees) faced a problem which seemed to be common with all of the five project schools. There was several non-attendance every week among the pupils because of sickness. Malaria is of course the biggest problem in Mwanza but like in every developing country, especially children get acute diarrhoea easily. Excreta related diseases are diarrhoea, cholera, typhoid fever, hepatitis-A, dysentery and guinea-worm disease. Specially children exposure easily to pathogens while playing with contaminated water and/or ground. Also, children are in the greater risk of having dehydration when suffering diarrhoea than adults. However most of the diarrhoea related diseases could be prevented without any big actions.
When teaching waste management we had to discuss a little bit about hygiene also. Pathogens (bacteria, viruses) are always involved when one is dealing with waste and that is why human health and waste management are closely connected to each other. That is when we noticed a big black spot. Unfortunately even the basic things seemed to be unfamiliar. For example washing hands after using toilets was uncommon.
Although in every school we visited, toilets were located as far as possible from the classrooms and playground, they were still inconvenient and they caused odour problems and most importantly health risks. Trationally toilets were pit latrines which were relocated when the pits were full. (Especially in suburb area, in city centre there wasn’t always chance to relocate so toilets were different. Because of the cultural differences, it was inappropriate to ask how the toilets were maintained).
In many places during the rainy season, the water soaked yards and roads because there were no ditches or drainage systems. Therefore the pathogens from waste piles and toilets were easily spread in a wet environment. Gardens where vegetables and fruits were grown were usually as far as possible from toilets but there were no obsticles to prevent contaminated water to spread there.
The challenge is how to prevent diarrhoea related diseases and reduce the non-attendance in schools, without any big financial actions?
Modified 2011-01-31 15:22:27
Practical training report on composting in Mwanza City, writers: Anna-Lotta Huuhka, Henna Niemelä, Mari Laukka and Vilhelmiina Harju
Research question: How to spread information about sanitation? What action should be done to prevent non-attendance at school in Mwanza?