Clean environment to build healthy nation

Monday, 15 August 2011 09:18

petty traders sell vegetables in a dirty water logged street in Dar es Salaam due to the poor drainage sytem

By Hellen Nachilongo, The Citizen Correspondent
Dar es Salaam.

Access to water and sanitation remains low in Tanzania despite the country’s abundance of river and lake waters.Tanzania, like other developing countries, lacks adequate resources that are needed in order to achieve environmental cleanliness.

One of the crucial and impacting consequences of the lack of resources involves the dangerous and unsuitable disposal of solid waste, which has created considerable health problems and very unpleasant living conditions in most of the developing countries.The waste generated creates unsanitary living conditions and detrimental health concerns, such as diarrhea and malnutrition, in addition to a range of sicknesses and diseases.

However, these problems triggered by improper sanitation can be traced back to about 68 per cent of all deaths for children under the age of five. Today, it is estimated that there are about 2.6 billion people (980 million children) living in the developing world who have yet to gain access to proper sanitation means, of which 572 million are living in Africa. Approximately 62 per cent of Africans lack the access to adequate sanitation facilities.

For this reason, Africa Medical Research Foundation (AMREF) had a regional meeting on water hygiene and sanitation. The meeting was aimed to increase number of people with access to safe and adequate water, access to use of appropriate sanitation, adoption of safe hygiene and sanitation practice.

AMREF country director Mr Festus Ilako says government should inject more resources in water sanitation and environment in order to save lives of mothers and children.

According to Mr Ilako, the World Health Organization(WHO)  and UNICEF joint monitoring report indicates that globally 1.8 million people die every year from diarrhea and cholera of which 90 per cent are children under 5 years in developing countries.

“Taking Tanzania as an example, most of the poor rural areas experience the rapid population growth which is roughly 2.9 per cent per annum, this growth exerts an enormous strain on delivery of water and sanitation services” he adds.

He expounded that a big population in rural areas is living in an environment that is characterised with poor and inadequate infrastructure for water and sanitation, therefore this situation explains the increase of sanitation and hygiene related diseases in Tanzania.

He says that in 2010 they made a conscious decision to focus on improving the health of women and children because they lose their lives than other people.

“A community with good health and long life expectancy also gains a sense of pride and confidence in itself that contributes the strength of their cherished culture,” he notes.

According to him, proper disposal of waste in Tanzania is essential to the growth of its community. Improper waste disposal results in poor living conditions for children and adults. The indisposed of garbage ends up in piles on the street which produce breeding grounds for insects and vermin that could possibly be carrying fatal diseases.

Mr Ilako says the improperly discharged waste often ends up contaminating the water source in rural villages and even some urban areas.

Today, it is estimated that only 40 per cent of the rural population have access to hygienic drinking water sources. “With over 50 per cent of the people susceptible to infections carried by water viruses, the results can be deleterious for the health of Tanzania, as the population is susceptible to disease and other dangerous side effects,” he says.

In retrospect, deputy minister for Water, Eng Gerson Lwenge said when hosting a regional meeting, that the status of hygienic and good environment is extremely low due to little awareness of various stakeholders on the importance of environment.

He adds that joint efforts  are needed to make sure that the nation has clean and good environment by 2015.

“ So far our environment is clean and conducive by 21 per cent which is very low, at least there is a need to struggle to  achieve at least  50 per cent of good environment by  2015” he said.

Mr Lwenge adds that the empowerment is needed on the importance of hygienic water, planting trees to the public because trees and other related issues are part of good environment in the development of the country.

Overall, the implementation of proper waste management systems is critically essential to the growth of a community and even a nation. Improper waste management can affect a community in every aspect of life, including economic, social, and cultural.

The unsanitary living conditions endured in various parts of Tanzania and all over the world can be prevented with the implementation of proper ways to dispose of waste in both rural and urban communities.

“Good health is indispensable to any community that aspires to grow. It means cleaner environment, a stronger working force, more tourism to help the economy, and longer life expectancy. The proper disposal of wastes would immeasurably aid a community economically, socially, and culturally,” he explains.

In addition, it heightens the risk of infections getting into the soil, weakening the earth where citizens grow their crops. That, in combination with contaminated water, stunts the growth of crops that many rely on as a source of living.

“The result is the weakening or bruising of the local economy. Contaminated water also becomes dangerous for children and adults to drink, as it carries diseases and infections that can cause malaria or diarrhea,” he said adding that the infections along with others also present in the air kill many Tanzanians and people worldwide each year.

Therefore, proper disposal of industrial waste in both urban and rural areas is essential to the growth of a community, a society, and a nation, and must be achieved.

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