Zambia: Lusaka declares war against malaria, cholera

Lusaka District Commissioner Christah Kalulu is confident [that the city] will have fewer cases of cholera and malaria, and suffer less disaster than it has during rainy seasons over the past decade.

This follows the successful implementation of the District Disaster Reduction (DDR) programme which was launched on August 18, 2009.

By June 2009, 162 deaths occurred countrywide out of 7,587-reported cases of cholera. Lusaka alone had a mortality rate of 30.

The new intervention measures were adopted from the United Nations (UN) lead Programme on Risk Reduction – a global platform on risk reduction currently shared worldwide.

The whole exercise is expected to cost K12.5 billion and so far Lusaka District has raised K5.2 billion from DDR’s own resources since the intervention came as a post budget strategy.

The funds are meant to cover health, water and sanitation, bridges and crossings, garbage collection and drainage clearance.

The Disaster Management and Monitoring Unit (DMMU) which falls under the office of the vice-president, made available temporary water tanks and mobile lavatories in high-risk areas to try and reduce the impact of the disease.

The Lusaka District Commissioner together with the area Members of Parliament and members of the community developed a plan of action [which] will perhaps help answer questions on why [there are] priority [high-risk] areas, like Mandevu and Kanyama.

In 2008, areas like Mandevu experienced floods that left a trail of destruction largely due to the blocked drains and unplanned construction.

The Lusaka District office with the help of prisoners has unblocked drains containing stagnant water, which are not only a potential source of a cholera outbreak but also a breeding ground for mosquitoes that cause malaria.

Mindful of the hazards associated with unblocking drainages, the Lusaka DDR has bought protective clothing, which included overalls, gumboots, and facemasks. The DDR also provides meals for the prisoners.

In areas where there has been erratic water supply or no water at all, the DDR is installing permanent water reticulation stands and sinking bore holes. The Lusaka Water and Sewerage Company (LWSC) has put up 11 permanent water pipes, and is replacing temporary water stands put up in 2008.

Such programmes however cannot succeed without the participation and interest of the community and it is for this reason that Ms Kalulu has embarked on a hygiene promotion crusade. Some of the programmes will include drama with the Muvi Television soap, Banja crew and musicians like Joe Chibangu.

Source: Sam Phirim, Times of Zambia / allAfrica.com, 27 Oct 2009

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