Sanitation is at the top of the agenda in the Grange area, ward 23 Mutasa district in the fight against stunting. This is being spearheaded by the ward food and nutrition security committee (WFNSC) and the Community Nutrition Support Groups (CNSG) under the multi-sectorial community based model for stunting reduction (MCBM). The aim is to ensure that all households have access to hygiene enabling facilities like the upgradable blair ventilated latrine (UBVIP) and create an open defecation free community where there are no diarrheal cases. Grange A village is in the resettlement area with 24 households and each household has an average of seven people. The families converted tobacco bans into their houses.
Since 2007 they have been using one double pit latrine which is now full and most people in the village had resorted to open defecation around the toilet and in the nearby fields. ‘Kushaikwa kwezvimbuzi kuri kuisa vana vedu panjodzi yemanyoka, (Open defecation puts the community at a high risk of contracting diarrheal diseases especially the young children.)’ narrated Mbuya Mukome one of the village health workers.
In August 2018 Nutrition Action Zimbabwe (NAZ) established support groups in ward 23 and trained the lead mothers and village health workers (VHWs) on infant and young child feeding practices and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). After the trainings the lead mothers and VHWs from Grange A assessed the situation and dangers associated with open defecation and mobilized the community to clean the environment and construct more toilets. ‘Zvidzidzo zvatakapiwa neNAZ zvakativhura pfungwa tikaona kuti tirikuisa vana wedu panjodzi yemanyoka inokonzeresa kuondoroka nekusakura zvakanaka, (After the training we had with NAZ we realized how our children were exposed to diarrheal diseases and stunting because of poor sanitation and open defecation),’ said Windrose Zari the lead mother for Grange A.
To address this problem, the community, led by the village health workers, lead mothers and the WFNSC, planned to build latrines at the area. Each household contributed $10 towards the construction of the toilets. Two double UBVIPs are already under construction and are expected to be completed by the end of October 2018.
Windrose Zari, the lead mother for Nhaka yemwana support group, had meetings with the mothers in her support group where they discussed issues that included hygiene and sanitation. Mothers from the support group together with the VHWs and members of the WFNSC constructed two tippy taps and donated them to Chiremba secondary school and Grange pre-school. The pupils from the two schools were taught how to wash hands and the importance of hand washing in prevention of diarrheal diseases.
The school health mistress for Chiremba secondary, Mrs Chidawanyika, appreciated the donation and she said the teachers also adopted the concept and constructed another tippy tap at their houses. ‘The tippy tap acts as a reminder for the children to wash their hands after using the toilet and some children have already started constructing these taps at their homes,’ narrated Mrs Chidawanyika. The total enrolment for the two schools is 400 and these children were sent home to preach the gospel of WASH and the construction of tippy taps.
Poor hygiene and sanitation is one of the identified drivers of stunting for ward 23 and one of the action plans for the WFNSC is to make the ward an open defecation free zone. ‘We are mobilizing the community to construct hygiene enabling facilities and we thank NAZ for assisting in establishing the support groups as they are making it easy for us to engage the community,’ said Yeukai Nyamutsamba the WFNSC chairperson.