About this Story
This article originally appeared on PulseWire as part of the Frontline Journal writing assignment for Voices of Our Future, a World Pulse training program providing rigorous web 2.0 and new media training to 31 emerging women leaders. Edits have been made to the original text for clarity.
To view other Voices of Our Future assignments in their original form, and to meet the correspondents, visit the VOF Assignments page.
A Constant Thirst
contaminating the drinking supply. Outbreaks of different water-borne diseases such as diarrhea and dysentery are rampant in the compounds. These illnesses sometimes lead to death.
Since November 2008 more than 500 people have lost their lives due to cholera. It seems that every rainy season there is an outbreak of the disease. Cholera and other sanitation-related diseases like trachoma are the second biggest killers in Zambia’s children according to Inter Press Service News Agency.
According to the 2008 Global Corruption Report by Transparency International, 80% of health problems in developing countries can be attributed to inadequate water and sanitation, a problem that claims the lives of nearly 1.8 million children every year and leads to the loss of an estimated 443-million school days for children who are suffering from water-borne diseases.
Chlorine is sold relatively inexpensively, but the majority of Zambians live on less than half-a-dollar a day, and most would rather buy a pamela (a small plastic bag of millie meal) to feed their children than buy chlorine to purify their water. And, in rural areas, access to chlorine comes with challenges of transport and poverty.
Every year, money is allocated to the water sector but little or nothing has been implemented in poor communities to change this reality. According to Zambia’s Anti-Corruption Commission, the government workers installs the majority of boreholes on government officials’ private land, rather than making water available to the rural poor. This has lead to a number of groups creating innovative plans to address the issue. One group came up with an initiative to erect a communal tap after their community councilor refused to do so. They wrote a proposal to Care International, who funded their project. Today, the communal tap serves hundreds of people but lacks regular maintenance.
The government is the major drive of development in any country. It is only through transparency and accountability that we will see access to adequate clean water become a reality. Local and international leaders have convened to address this important issue, but monitoring and evaluations must be strictly followed to ensure that these plans are implemented. The international community, local communities, and politicians must continue to work with communities to make adequate clean water available. If only politicians would follow through on their promises, then we would see a drastic reduction in water born diseases and reduced deaths and hardship throughout Zambia and other developing nations.