Gwanda council revamps communal toilet

For 20 years on end, women in Gwanda’s Ward 4 in Jahunda suburb have been affected by poor ablution facilities following a lack of willingness by the Council to repair and fix the communal toilet. To hasten the process of repairing the communal toilet in Jahunda suburb, a group of women self-mobilized to form a collective that lobbied the Town Council to provide improved ablution services for the community.

Jahunda residents said they were living in unhealthy conditions with more than 95 residents sharing a single toilet.

In an interview, community member Zanele Nyathi said women decided to stand up as a group and approach the Council to revamp the toilet structure that was no longer fit to be used by a large number of people.

“A group of women approached the council to seek assistance in the provision of a much user–friendly ablution facility. Through the knowledge that we were given by one of the organizations that we work with, that focus on championing women’s interests, Women’s Institute for Leadership Development, we were able to approach the Town Mayor to listen and act on our pleas.

“As a collective of women from ward 4, we managed to convince the local authority to refurbish this toilet structure that was really posing a big health hazard to community members,” she said.

Nyathi said since their engagement with the Town Mayor, the Blair toilet that was used by residents was transformed into a modern-day toilet.

“Following the engagements that we had with our Mayor, major changes were done to the structure of our communal toilet. We now have a flush system which is way better than what we used to have. The Council is now constantly cleaning the toilet as opposed to how things used to be run. We extend our gratitude to women who took their time to engage the Council on the issue,” Nyathi said.

However, some residents are still calling on the local authority to allow them to build their own family toilets as the use of the communal toilet has brought many other social and health problems to the community.

Tsigai Maphosa said it is important for the local authority to provide them with temporary toilets as it was hard especially for women to use a communal toilet that had no locks, which puts women at risk.

“Apart from the health scare, our young girls are now getting pregnant because they give excuses of going to the toilet when they are going to see men. For some, the toilet is located very far which is very dangerous for women to go and relieve themselves in the evening. A lot of people have been beaten at night and this issue is being overlooked,” Maphosa said.

Women from Jahunda say they are planning on approaching the Council to engage them on whether or not residents can build their own toilets as part of efforts to eradicate some of their long-existing problems.

“As women, we are planning on going back to the local authority to ask them if we can build our own toilets for ourselves. We are still going to engage them on this issue because we cannot live in such an unhealthy environment,” said Berveline Sibanda.

Residents said since the collective of women approached the local council for the provision of better services, using the communal clinic has been slightly bearable but there is still room for improvement.

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