Matebeleland north province has recorded the highest number of householders practicing open defecation, according to preliminary findings of the 2022 Population and Housing Census.
Although Zimbabwe succeeded in decreasing open defecation from 30.6 percent in 2000 to 23.5 percent in 2020, hordes of residents in the capital Harare are of late facing the challenge to relieve themselves, as public toilets have been locked due to water scarcity.
“Matabeleland North and Masvingo Provinces had the largest proportion of households who practiced open defecation. In the two provinces, such households constituted 50 percent and 35 percent respectively,” reads the report.
Open defecation facilitates the transmission of pathogens that cause diarrheal diseases, which is the second leading contributor to the global burden of disease.
The latest Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZimVAC) report also revealed that more than 50 percent of families in Matebeleland North province do not have access to toilets and relieve themselves in bushes.
The province was reported to have a dire shortage of ablution facilities, with Binga (67%), Lupane (61%), and Tsholotsho (52%) districts being the most affected.
“27% of rural households practiced open defecation. Matebeleland North (50%) had the highest proportion of households practicing open defecation,” further reads the report.
“Most districts in Matebeleland North had over 50 percent of households practicing open defecation. Open defecation in Matabeleland North has been constantly high over the years.”
The report noted that Nkayi, which used to top the list of districts affected by open defecation in the province, has greatly improved, following various interventions from developmental partners such as World Vision.
Mfanyana village in Nkayi, which was one of the hot spots, launched a zero open defecation campaign four years ago, which is now paying dividends.
According to World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Joint monitoring program (JMP) 2021 reports, 494 million people practice open defecation . Most (92%) of these people lived in rural areas and nearly half of them lived in sub-Saharan Africa.