Human waste disposed at school grounds

HARARE - It is 10am on a Friday and I am in St Mary’s township, Chitungwiza, where the streets are already bustling with all kinds of activity.

Some men are huddled together playing a game of cards, while some are busy making art and craft and others are already drunk this early.

The women also look equally busy as they carry buckets of water getting ready to prepare the mid-morning meal.

However, in the midst of all this, something peculiar catches the eye. A woman is holding a bucket with a frown on her face and a hand over her nose. She walks in haste towards Dungwiza Primary School and throws the bucket’s contents in the school yard covered with tall grass.

And hold on. The bucket is full of human waste, a trend common in the area surrounding Dungwizi Primary School. Residents here relieve themselves in buckets or plastic bags then they dispose this into the primary school yard.

Muchaneta Masarira, 40,  said their toilet has not been functioning for 20 years ago and her family have since engaged the bucket system and sometimes they use the bhundu (bush). “We use the bucket system and sometimes we use the bhundu for relieving ourselves.”

As the name implies, the bhundu is a type of long wild grass or wilderness forest and this is likened to the grasslands that are within the primary school yard and further on in a clearing between houses.

Masarira said: “We use the bhundu as our toilet and we take turns with men. If I see a man going into the ‘Bhundu’ I wait for him to finish or I change the spot that I will use.” 

Masarira said cases of diarrhoea have been recorded in the area and this is made worse as an average of 10 people, including tenants, occupy a single house in St Mary’s.

Spiwe Mazingaizo, 47, who lives with her three children and two grand-children said the bucket system is cumbersome and it degrades her as a woman.

“It is difficult for us as women, imagine carrying the bucket and throwing away the human waste. We have also to clean the bucket. We really need decent toilets.”

While most people use the bhundu, Previous Tarwirei, 25 said he walks to his friend’s place in Zengeza 2 just to relieve himself. Some people in the neighbourhood have septic tanks but they do not want us to use their toilets.”

St Mary’s has a perennial problem of running tap water like other parts of Zimbabwe. Some families have dug Blair toilets but these have also filled up.

The situation is dire as it is a ticking health bomb. Eyeshot visited the area and saw raw sewage flowing into the school and people throwing away raw waste at the school.

It has been 20 years for some without toilets and the council said it cannot

easily replace the old pipes to restore the sewer system.

Lucia Mashonganyika, 40, said: “We are surviving through God’s grace. The life that we are living in is worse than any you can think of.

“Maybe the council should build Blair toilets for us because we do not for see new pipes being installed.”

Theresa William, 51, with three children and four grand children has a house near the primary school.

He said: “I am really affected by the strong stench that comes from the school.

“In the morning and afternoon my house is covered by flies, the “green bombers”. I fear my children are going to be affected.”

Comments (3)

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The problem of residents emptying refuse bins and buckets of excrement into school yards has become very widespread in Chitungwiza. Whenever the council refuse trucks do not come to collect refuse bins/or toilets are mulfunctioning, people empty these over mostly council -run school durawalls ,the waste accumulating in the school yard,putting their own children at risk of diseases. Nobody cares at all. These are the signs of a total breakdown of ablution facilities.

Breakdown - 14 July 2014

better throw the tsvina at the shake shake building, near rainbow tower, along rotten row.

Pondo nechumi - 14 July 2014

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