Four per cent of Lusaka’s 2.5 million residents are still openly defecating, a practice of excreting and disposing of solid human waste in an unhygienic manner, Lusaka City Council (LCC) data reveals.

According to an LCC powerpoint presentation shared with journalists during a two-day media workshop on the ongoing Lusaka Sanitation Programme (LSP) at Ibis Gardens, four per cent of Lusaka’s 2.5 million residents, translating to around 101,044 people, still perpetuate an unhygienic way of disposing solid human waste, a situation that sustained a filthy environment and jeopardized ground water.

Speaking to journalists during the “Status of Sanitation in Lusaka” session, Thursday, LCC acting director for public health Edgar Mulwanda explained that open defection was not only confined to peri-urban areas, otherwise referred to as unplanned settlements or townships, but equally in the suburbs of Lusaka.

He cited examples of baby diapers, still packed with faecal matter, which was still being disposed of by Lusaka residents in an unhygienic manner as opposed to safely removing the solid waste before disposing the diaper.

“The current sanitation situation has led to contamination of ground water. Contaminated ground water, especially from shallow wells, is said to be the main cause of waterborne disease outbreaks, such as cholera and typhoid,” observed Mulwanda.

Under the capital city’s estimated sanitation coverage, the percentage of residents resorting to open defecation, though the least at four per cent, remained the most problematic practice still causing challenges in improving hygiene in most communities.

Other means used for disposal of human waste included off-site sanitation, which included sewers representing 10 per cent; on-site sanitation, which included septic tanks at 16 per cent and pit latrines remaining the most commonly used at 70 per cent.

This means that over 1.7 million Lusaka residents still use pit latrines as sanitation facilities; approximately 404,000 have access to septic tanks, leaving 253,000 resorting to sewers, while the remaining 101,044 Lusaka residents openly defecate.