As you may know I am in Zambia with the International Reporting Project as a New Media fellow. Ten of us are here in the country to report on HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and other rarely covered stories in the region.
Yesterday we visited Macha, a small Southern province town 60 miles from the nearest city, Choma. Macha is the home of the Malaria Institute at Macha, an institute that has successfully reduced the number of malaria cases in the area by 90 percent. The vast majority of the residents of Macha are subsistence farmers who live on small homesteads.
In order to achieve such an unprecedented reduction in malaria cases, the will of the community must first be achieved through the area chief. Chief Macha was the conduit through which much of the malaria success took place.
We were invited to Chief Macha’s palace to speak to him about how he fights HIV/AIDS, but instead he wanted to speak to us about sanitation and health. Now that malaria has been controlled in Macha, Chief Macha has taken up a new cause – village sanitation. In fact, last year Chief Macha was honored as a UNICEF Zambia Supporter for Sanitation.
He spoke to us about his philosophy about ensuring every homestead has its own pit latrine and how he created a 100 percent Open Defecation Free community.
“You cannot do anything without your health.” – Chief Macha
“Food and sanitation must be fought the world over. – Chief Macha
“We should all be sanitation drivers.” – Chief Macha
“I have given myself to sanitation.” – Chief Macha
“Without clean water you have a problem with disease. If you drink dead water you come down with diarrhea.” – Chief Macha
“If you have the will, things can be done.” – Chief Macha
Photos: Jennifer James