Phukile Zgambo and Protection Against Waterborne Diseases

Phukile Zgambo lives in Sanga, Nkhata Bay North, with his two wives and 8 children. Their income comes primarily from fishing, but Phukile, his family and community have often faced high levels of waterborne diseases in Sanga. 

High cases of waterborne diseases such as dysentery and diarrhoea have remained a persistent issue for people in Sanga, like Phukile and his family. This is due to reliance on open water sources, poor sanitation infrastructure, and poor hygiene practices.

Phukile found out about Temwa through an engagement meeting with the chiefs, Village Development Committee (VDC) and Temwa where they were introducing the Water, Hygiene and Sanitation Project (WASH) project. 

Since Temwa’s WASH project began, engagement meetings have promoted the adoption of sanitation facilities such as latrines, bathrooms, handwashing facilities, and the use of ceramic water filters to reduce waterborne diseases. Now people are aware of these practices, demand for water filters is high, and already 110 water filters have been given out to households.  

“Thank you Temwa for the support, not only have you supported us with water filters, and information on WASH. Thank you very much.”   

Before the WASH programme began, “Most people believed lake water was safe to drink because of its clearness.” However, there are many activities that contribute to the contamination of the water, which may lead to different diseases such as dysentery and diarrhoea. Children also remain particularly susceptible to diseases, since they struggle with hygiene practices and often lack parental guidance.

A baseline survey conducted by Temwa in 2023 highlighted that 95% of the households in Sanga collect water for cooking and drinking from unprotected sources (mainly rivers and the lake), Phukile and his family were one of these households. 

“Apart from the school borehole, water is only accessed from the lake and dam.” This water is not always safe to drink, and the treatment methods for it are insufficient, relying on chlorine provided from the hospital but which is not always available. Now, over 75% of households are now adopting recommended water treatment methods, compared to less than 60% beforehand.

“I would like for every household in this community to have access to clean and safe water because the diseases that usually attack us hold us back in our day-to-day activities.”

In terms of public latrine-use, close to 90% of respondents to Temwa’s most recent evaluation survey stated that they had seen an improvement in open defecation, especially in specific sites where the malpractice is known to be common. Now, Phukile and his family have seen clear changes in the adoption of better practices in their community, which has contributed to the decrease in the percentage of households reporting frequent occurrences of WASH-related diseases from 23% to 9.8%.

“With Temwa’s support and awareness, I see the community changing in terms of living, very soon every household will have their own latrine. As the committee we have made it clear to report houses who are not abiding to these rules to the chiefs.”

Find out more in our latest report here

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