Diaspora group in public health push

HARARE - Diaspora Infrastructure Development Group (DIDG)  has decided to take matters into its own hands after spotting a huge gap in sanitation provision in Harare that has seen the explosion of medieval diseases such as typhoid.

Infectious diseases such as typhoid linked to water and sanitation account for almost 30 percent of health problems in the capital, with thousands of children under five treated for diarrheal diseases annually.

The DIDG and the Catholic Church are educating residents in Harare on how to pursue and maintain better health and hygiene.

DIDG is a company founded and duly incorporated in Zimbabwe and South Africa and spearheaded largely by Zimbabwean Diasporas based in South Africa with the long term plan of expanding shareholder base to Zimbabwean residents and the rest of its Diaspora.

New Highfield Roman Catholic priest Clifford Nhetekwa told a typhoid awareness and environmental health action programme yesterday that communities are supposed to maintain their own areas.

“My encouragement to the people in the community is not to throw rubbish everywhere; they are supposed to take rubbish where it is supposed to be taken. They should not blame the city council, who took that rubbish where it is? It is the community that did that,” Nhetekwa said.

“So the community must be educated that they should not throw rubbish everywhere, because at the end of the day, we will end up having a lot of diseases especially this typhoid thing. So people need education because they are always saying city council is doing nothing, no. The council is doing their part, we must also do our own part.”

Typhoid is mainly transmitted through contaminated water and food and is closely linked to inadequate environmental management.

Interruptions to portable water supplies, together with overcrowding and bursting of sewage pipes as well as uncollected garbage aggravate outbreaks.

DIDG, which is partnering with the National Railways of Zimbabwe to revive the State rail infrastructure, said the health initiative was part of its social responsibility programme.

“When you come back and you look at things and you feel it’s the right to do,” DIDG strategy communication and public relation director Washington Mashanda said.

“So our focus is in infrastructure development, as you may know, we have partnered with Transnet and NRZ working on the NRZ project, and the belief is that we need the right infrastructure base of the economy to grow. Health and sanitation is part of the infrastructure.

Without a good health and sanitation system, your economic growth will be stagnated.

“We feel because we are in infrastructure development, and we have identified sectors which are critical to the country, we  believe that getting involved in health and sanitation is a way, small as it may be, to start putting our focus to getting the right sanitation.”

He said the government alone can only do so much but civil society and business need to play a part not only to deal with prevention, but preventative measures.

Project manager for Caritas Harare Takura Gwatinyaya said equipment and goods donated by the DIDG would be used in awareness programmes.