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Emmanuel Mashandudze

Business Intelligence, Tools and Process Specialist, Witwatersrand University

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Preventing Cholera in rural Zimbabwe - Use of empty containers as taps outside blair-toilets

I saw something fascinating in rural Zimbabwe, Because of this epidemic disease(Cholera) people have come up with a way of making sure people always have access to clean water to wash hands after using toilets and all around homesteads. In most rural setting in Africa there is no tap water and this comes in handy in the sense that all you need is an empty container with a lid. A hole is drilled on the lid and a string is made to go through it and inside the lid a knot is made. The outside string is about a meter long which is tied to a stick. The water container is suspended about 1 meter from the group and for people to just step on the stick to tilt the water container without touching the container as a result preventing any possible contamination with the water in the container. I thought this could be shared to other areas which share the same problem

Topics: Africa

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  • mary T

    • +2
    Apr 7 2013: Thanks for your response. It makes it clearer to me. I think I understand the issue, trying to interrupt the contamination chain.

    Three thoughts come to mind --Firstly, I've read a little bit about the cholera epidemic that hit London in the 1830s, and about how John Snow mapped the incidences of cholera and thus discovered that a particular well was contaminated. So, my first thought is -- the source of the hand-washing water must be clean. Ground water can be contaminated. So, the water itself has to be purified. I am curious - why isn't rain water used? If I'm not mistaken, rain water is purified by the process of nature.

    My second thought may seem very silly but what you describe brings to mind movies and television. In the introduction of a show called "Petticoat Junction," there are young women showering below a cistern of rain water. They pull a chain, the cistern tips, and water pours out to rinse them. Same concept, but yours is a smaller scale. Lots of old western movies show this type of device.

    Third and final idea -- I suppose it's ridiculous, but hand sanitizers, are they available? The kind we stick in our purses, or the larger models that are installed on the walls of hospitals and other public buildings. I don't know about this idea, but I thought I'd mention it.

    I wish you well.

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