By CHUSA SICHONE –
LUSAKA is facing a sanitation crisis which has contributed to the loss of lives, the Lusaka Water and Sewerage Company (LWSC) has warned.
Statistics indicate that 90 per cent of Lusaka residents rely on pit latrines, most of which are poorly constructed, and that the remaining 10 per cent reside in peri-urban areas using sewers, septic tanks while open defecation is still common.
According to LWSC managing director Jonathan Kampata, the sanitation problem claims lives through diseases such as cholera, typhoid and dysentery, besides severe environmental pollution.
Mr Kampata said this at the official opening of a three-day national training workshop on Faecal Sludge Management (FSM) Technologies in Lusaka yesterday, where he estimated that around 70 per cent of Lusaka’s urban residents resided in peri-urban areas.
In a speech read for him by finance director Matildah Mwansa, Mr Kampata said that those areas were characterised relatively by high-density, unplanned neighbourhoods largely comprised of poorer residents.
“About 90 per cent of these residents rely on pit latrines, most of which are poorly constructed. The remaining 10 per cent living in peri-urban areas use sewers, septic tanks or defecate in the open. The unplanned and poorly constructed nature of the peri-urban settlements makes sewers an unattractive sanitation option in these areas,” Mr Kampata said.
He said while everyone wanted sewers to be constructed, it would be a costly undertaking, hence the need to explore other options like on-site sanitation and FSM systems.
FSM is a management system that safely collects, transports and treats faecal sludge or septage from pit latrines, septic tanks or other on-site sanitation facilities.
It deals with the mixture of human excreta and water that is collected in certain types of decentralised lavatories and sanitation systems, instead of going into centralised wastewater systems.
On-site sanitation systems include septic tanks or cesspools to treat lavatory wastewaters. The septic tank sludge or faecal sludge, which is highly polluted, needs to be periodically removed for further treatment and disposal or reuse.
Mr Kampata said the initiative to strengthen capacity in FSM could not have come at a better time than currently and was thus thankful to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for supporting the LWSC and other partners in increasing knowledge on that matter.
He also thanked the African Water Association (AfWA), which was represented by Simeon Kenfack, for selecting Lusaka as one of the project sites and facilitating the continued peer-to-peer partnership, which was already producing benefits.
Dr Kenfack said that the sanitation aspect was left behind while water was usually in the forefront and that when it came to the sanitation sector, people had been used to piped waste water as more than 80 per cent of communities relied on on-site sanitation.