Spotlight: WASH in Colleges and Health Facilities in Zambia

by | Mar 15, 2017 | Blogs

MARCH 14, 2017.

Co-written by Jackson (Vision Africa Regional Network), and Alix Charles (Campaign Consultant at End Water Poverty)

On the 14th of March 2017, Vision Africa Regional Network (VAREN) visited the Mansa School of Nursing to hold a consultative meeting with the students. In attendance were 194 students, in addition to the three VAREN staff members.

VAREN was commissioned in response to persistent problems and major changes which significantly threaten the quality of life of the rural communities. These include relentless rural poverty on a massive scale, a high prevalence of food insecurity, persistently high unemployment levels, poor access to water supply and sanitation, high illiteracy levels, accelerating natural resource degradation and climate change; increase in child labour, child sex abuse, which threatens health to the marginalised and less privileged groups. Today, VAREN works to improve its development effectiveness. To build broad local ownership of its programmes and interventions, VAREN works strategically with government ministries, development partners, local NGOs and local communities through their community-based organizations. Its focus on local development has given it a role in bridging the gap between the government institutions on the one side, and civil society represented by NGOs and community-based organizations (CBOs) on the other.

– VAREN “About Us”

The Meeting was spearheaded by Mr. Morris Chimbeta, a VAREN Programs Manager, who introduced the organization, and discussed with the students issues concerning water, sanitation, and hygiene. The students shared their views regarding how their local context of access to water and sanitation. Some students shared stories of the 200 meters they walk to fetch water for daily use. In fact, many do not have access to running water in their accommodations (called “hostels”). Despite the increasing number of students being enrolled, the water source of the college has remained the same and is limited to a bore hole. Mr. Chimbeta brought to light the importance of access to safe water for all and framed it within the context of Human Rights. Water Action Month was discussed along with the World Water day and past successes resulting from such gatherings.

Water Action Month with Health Students

Students of the Mansa School of Nursing during a VAREN consultative meeting

Key outcomes discussed through this meeting included:

  • The government needs urgently mobilize resources and reconstruct the sewage pipe line on the campus grounds.
  • The government needs to mobilize resources to undertake a complete improved water supply and increase the hours of access, particularly in the patient wards and maternity wing.
  • There should be running water in the hostels for the students
  • The government should be more responsive in respecting the human rights of students and community members, through responding and financing adequate water and sanitation services.

Recommendations from this and similar meetings will be handed over to government representatives for further action.

Walking in the High Way Street to raise awareness on the rights to WASH

WASH Walk to raise awareness on the Human Right to Water and Sanitation

Prior to this meeting, VAREN conducted a Walk in the street to show solidarity on water challenges in colleges and health facilities. This public gathering aimed to show the government the importance of keeping their promises and ensure human rights to WASH are respected. Follow-up activities include a second consultative meeting with students from a teachers college, a meeting with women’s groups, and a third with community groups of individuals lacking WASH services in nearby communities.

Message Display

A student at Mansa Teachers Training College holding a Water Action Month message sign

Water Action Month is the annual opportunity for WASH-focused organisations worldwide to advocate for access to clean water and safe sanitation for the most marginalised populations. VAREN’s activities are a great example of multi-stakeholder engagement in line with the global message of Water Action Month: Water is life. Sanitation is dignity. Keep your promises. Now is the Time!