Sanitation and Hygiene Taskforce

Terms of Reference:

The Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sector in Zimbabwe has developed so tremendously in the past decades. This recognition has been made nationally and internationally. The Government of Zimbabwe has now tasked the NAC with the responsibility for the Urban WASH and the Water Resources Management after the Rural WASH which it has been overseeing for the past years. New opportunities exist in the sector today. However, a major flow remains in the planning and management of the sector. Chief amongst the challenges is the lack of a consolidated sector database and information centre to function as a repository for sector achievements, strategies, lessons learnt, and documents pertaining to different sector evaluations and developments. That flow is most evident in the planning for emergency. The lack of consolidated data and information makes programme planning, monitoring and evaluation a mammoth task to accomplish.

Even though Zimbabwe is estimated to be on track in meeting the Water target of the Millennium Development Goal (JMP), sanitation is off track and according to the Country Status Overview, Zimbabwe is amongst one of the countries experiencing reversal in sanitation coverage in the SADC region.  Factors that affect the sanitation and hygiene improvements include among other things policies, technologies and the general enabling framework in which sanitation has been supply driven with subsidies. Improvements in water and sanitation will not be effective unless accompanied by positive hygiene behaviour change.

Safe dignified sanitation, water and hygiene knowledge are one of the greatest public health breakthroughs. The priority for human health and development is to make sure that WASH services are made available to all. The importance of access to safe sanitation and hygiene can thus not be over emphasised.

•    The consequence of neglecting sanitation and hygiene is that there will be premature illnesses and deaths. Between August 2008 to June 2009, more than 98 000 cholera cases and more than 4 200 deaths were reported in both urban and rural areas. In 2010 450 cases and 8 deaths of typhoid outbreak were experienced mostly in Harare.   Among the reasons for the spread of these diseases were poor hygiene practices, inadequate sanitation facilities and safe drinking water.
•     Zimbabweans continue to succumb to waterborne and water washed diseases such as scabies, trachoma, schistosomiasis and intestinal worms. Attention to hygiene and sanitation could go a long way in reducing these illnesses.
•    The nation has identified the priority of Millennium Development Goals as:  Poverty eradication, combating HIV and AIDS, promoting Gender equality. There cannot be gender equality when women and children face abuse, rape and security threats through open defecation. Access to sanitation is used as a proxy indicator for poverty reduction and Zimbabwe will not move towards eradicating poverty if attention is not paid to sanitation and hygiene. These two components are also critical in other health spheres such as HIV and Aids, maternal health. The affected and infected both need support of safe hygiene enabling facilities.
•    WASH related diseases are placing a strain on family time, earnings, energy and financial resources. The strain is also felt on the national health services where it is estimated that half of the hospital beds are occupied by victims of poor sanitation and poor hygiene.

Against this background, the National Stakeholders meeting of 8th April, 2010 that followed the ministers’ retreat recommended the formation of a Sanitation and Hygiene Task Force that would “promote, create awareness, advocate and facilitate accelerated improvements in hygiene, access and coverage to safe innovative sanitation so as to save lives and contribute to poverty eradication. 

While recognizing the existence of a National Sanitation Committee, it is noted that the sanitation coverage continues to decline and hygiene is not receiving attention. This new Task force will have a special mandate to invigorate and develop strategies for accelerated advances in sanitation improvements, paying attention to the use of participatory approaches, scaling up of health clubs and capacity building.

Specific Terms of Reference are as follows:

Develop a Strategy for Zero Open Defecation (ZOD):
The strategy will cover issues on research into technologies, subsidies and strategies for community led incremental sanitation. This is going to start with (i) identification of research gaps with special focus on appropriate, affordable, safe and acceptable sanitation technologies and strategies; (ii) initiation and co-ordination of relevant research and trials in collaboration with academia, civil society and external support agencies, and make informed recommendations (iii) provide technical support and coordinate social mobilisation, awareness campaigns, and hygiene promotion initiatives with the ultimate objective of sustainable  behaviour change amongst communities, households and individuals.

 Provide technical support to capacity development initiatives at all levels:

(i)    Carry out policy advocacy on effective community based approaches to safe disposal of human excreta and behaviour change communication and elevating the profile of sanitation and hygiene in the national development agenda through various initiatives like successful commemoration of the National Sanitation Week, Global Hand Washing Day, World Water Day etc.
(ii)    Harmonize the data sets and make recommendations of how best these can be utilized. The harmonization of data sets is against the recognition that planning and resource gap identification will be difficult unless the data is harmonized.
(iii)     Develop an implementation plan, work programme and solicit resources for operationalisation of the sanitation and hygiene strategy.
(iv)     Mainstreaming cross cutting issues such as gender, HIV/AIDS, human rights based approaches to programming and feed these into the National WASH Policy.

Frequency of meetings:

The Task Force shall have a life span of one and half years, and the current Task Force is effective June 2010 – December 2011.  The Task Force shall meet every month on the last Wednesday before the Cluster meeting. The agenda will be circulated a week before the meeting.

Members of the Sanitation and Hygiene Task Force:

Ministry of Health and Child Welfare –chair 
Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources  
Practical Action
Plan International
Mvuramanzi Trust
World Vision
IWSD- Secretariat
City Health Department (Harare City)
Min of Water Resources Development and Management
Ministry of Information
National Institute of Health Research 
Min of Defence (Health section)
National Coordination Unit
Ministry of Transport Communications and Infrastructural Development
Zimbabwe Prisons Services
Ministry of Local Government, Rural and Urban Development
Ministry of Education, Arts, Sports and Culture
National Health Care Trust
Media- (Herald, Kwayedza, ZTV News)

Reporting: Reports to National Action Committee, Rural WASH Sub-Committee
 Ministry of Health and Child Welfare will chair the Task force and IWSD will remain the Secretariat.

Current Key Milestones under this Taskforce:
Successful annual commemoration of the National Sanitation Week in Beitbridge for  the year 2010 and a resounding one in Masvingo in 2011 under the theme ‘Consolidating our national Pride through Safe, Dignified Sanitation and Hygiene Practices’ with the Acting President Cde J. Mujuru as the Guest of Honour

Draft Sanitation and Hygiene Strategy in place and awaiting ratification by the main NAC before operationalisation

Data harmonization process kick started and is expected to have been finalized by end May 2012

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