Econet Wireless has taken its fight against Cholera to a new level by shifting the focus from an emergency response to a sustained, collaborative campaign aimed at preventing future outbreaks of the epidemic.
Speaking at the launch of what the company calls the “Arise and Shine” campaign in Harare’s Glenview suburb yesterday morning, Econet CEO Mr Douglas Mboweni said the goal of the campaign was to make a sustainable impact in addressing the root causes of the cholera epidemic, so that it would not happen again.
“Our commitment to partnering with local and government stakeholders to solve the public healthcare challenges we face in our communities is a long-term commitment, directed at addressing the root causes of the problems, not just the symptoms,” said Mr Mboweni, whose company has donated over $15 million in the fight against cholera, the waterborne disease which has claimed 54 lives over the past two months, and which the government has declared a national emergency.
Addressing over 300 local volunteers, residents, community leaders, senior Econet, Cassava, Higherlife Foundation and Steward bank executives and staff, as well as representatives from the City of Harare and the Environmental Management Agency, Mr Mboweni urged the local community to take ownership of cleanliness of its close environs.
“Although we are launching a month-long clean-up campaign today, our message is it should not end in a month’s time, but we should arise and take up responsibility for the cleanness of our homes, our streets and neigbourhoods, so that we restore Harare to its former ‘sunshine city’ status,” said the Econet CEO, urging those present to go and educate their friends and families on the importance of public hygiene and of adopting anti-littering habits and practices.
He announced that the Econet Group had mobilized 20 skip bins (large waste disposal bins) to deploy in all the council wards in Glenview and Budiriro – the epicentres of the current cholera crisis. He said the company was also deploying two refuse trucks to depose of refuse in the two suburbs.
Speaking at the event, Harare City Environment and Amenities Director Mr Lisben Chipfunde expressed the City’s gratitude at the work Econet was doing in Glenview and Budiriro and in other communities, acknowledging that Econet was one of the first companies to respond to the current cholera outbreak.
“Econet was one of the very first companies to respond to the cholera crisis, going all out to help the communities worst affected by the disease here, and swiftly moving provide water tanks together with Higherlife Foundation, which ensured people had a steady supply of fresh, clean water,” he said, adding that the impact of Econet’s intervention was that the cholera outbreak was now contained, with no new deaths having been reported lately.
Besides the campaign it launched today, Econet is currently working with the City of Harare on an infrastructure rehabilitation project in Budiriro and Glenview, estimated to cost more than $5 million, over and above mounting a public information, education and awareness campaign targeted at preventing the disease and protecting citizens.
Econet has also been with working with a multisectoral group, under the Ministry of Local Government, tasked with addressing the threat posed by epidemics such as the cholera outbreak. The company gave logistical and provided case-management support for cholera patients at the height of the outbreak through Higherlife Foundation, in partnership with the Ministry of Health and ChildCare.
Econet is also leading a fundraising effort, called ‘Kanzatu-nzatu’, fronted by its bank, Steward Bank, and Cassava’s EcoCash and Higherlife Foundation, in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance.