The Principle Health Officer in the Ministry of Health, Clifford Matsoga, last week appealed to the Shoshong residents to look after their environment and to conserve water so as to prevent and control diseases.
Speaking at the Shoshong Water Week Celebrations held under the theme ‘Sanitation’, Matsoga explained that the international community has declared the year 2008 as the International Year of Sanitation (IYS). He emphasized that water and environment go hand in hand.
“We have to stop destroying our environment and start to control and look after it, because if we don’t, our water can be contaminated causing diseases like cholera, typhoid, diarrhea and bilharzia that could have been prevented and controlled,” he said.
H further said, “Water is life, nothing can live without it. People go on hunger strikes but they can never stay without drinking water.”
Matsoga further advised Batswana to change the way they have been doing things. To those who do not have toilets in their homes, he said they should always dig holes in which to throw human and animal waste. He said an individual has to make sanitation part of his/her live.
He also encouraged Batswana to form Home Based Care groups and assured them of the Ministry’s support.
“Social workers should also encourage people to change. They should teach them where to throw condoms and pads because they are scattered everywhere in the forest,” he said.
He urged Batswana to be careful of crooks who go around saying they have some magic medicines that can be used to purify water. “We have tested all that and it is very risky as they can make water even worse. These people wanted only to take advantage of you,” he stated.
Matsoga pleaded with Government Departments, Non Governmental Organizations, Professional Associations and the Private Sector to work together rather than to compete for the service and said, “We have to make sure that every time we go around the country teaching our communities about water conservation, every department is represented.”
Touching on the overview of water issues in Botswana, Oarabile Serumola, who spoke on behalf of the Director of Water Affairs said that water hygiene at household level, in some of our homes, is not satisfactory.
“Our water is stored in inappropriate containers, children find their way to these containers, dipping unclean cups which are not kept well,” she said. According to Serumola water must be boiled before it can be used. “This kills the germs and the bacteria that might be in the water,” she added.
Due to the problem of the quality of our water, Serumola said cases of diarrhea in children have increased. “Between November last year up until March this year, we lost about 97 kids due to diarrhea. This is something which could have been avoided,” she said.
Serumola said 80 percent of water in Botswana is from the boreholes, and 75 percent of this country is made up of the Kalahari sand. “Usually it takes us 400 ÔÇô 700 meters to reach the underground water in the Kalahari area because of the sand,” she stated.
She pointed out that Botswana has finished pegging all the sites where dams could be built. “Dikgatlhong Dam is the last dam of national significance. Looking at the way our economy is growing, there is indeed a need for us to preserve what we have right now,” she said.
Serumola further pleaded with Batswana to start recycling water. “Water moves as a wheel regardless of where it comes from. We really don’t have enough water and it is now time we start recycling used water,” she said. She urged them to benchmark with countries like Zambia, where every drop of unclean water is recycled and used again.
Giving the vote of thanks, Counselor Molefi Mphoyakgosi implored that people build toilets in the cattle posts and to those who have toilets not to deny their herdsmen access to them by locking the toilets when they return to their village.