This year, Nyarai and her fellow health club members in Kuwadzana will receive additional training on community-led surveillance. “We are strengthening the health clubs’ capacity to notify cases of severe diarrheal diseases”, said Reinaldo Ortuño Gutierrez, MSF’s medical coordinator in Zimbabwe. “At the same time, we are supporting a study testing the effectiveness of a new typhoid vaccine, an additional tool to fight outbreaks of the waterborne infectious disease.
The combination of technical, medical, and community-empowering elements in a modular kit allows upscaling environmental health interventions beyond Zimbabwe too. Over the course of 2019, MSF’s regional environmental health team and local partner organisations have set up 19 water points with health clubs in Malawi, and an additional six in Mozambique. Other MSF projects in West Africa and South America are next on the pilot list.
At the drill site in Mbare, night is falling as the team starts cementing the 20-meter long plastic pipe that seals the upper part of the borehole. Once this borehole is up and running, two new toolkit elements will shortly be available to tackle the waste piles and leaking sewage contaminating the shallow groundwater.
Together with local companies buying recyclable materials from communities at several collection points across Mbare, MSF is about to launch a new scheme for managing solid waste. In Stoneridge, an informal settlement in the outskirts of Harare, a pilot with local company Jojatis has just fitted ten households with a decentralised system to clean and recycle household wastewater using earthworms.
“We are evaluating these waste management innovations with local research partners like the University of Zimbabwe. Once proven successful, we will include them in our environmental health toolkit and keep scaling them regionally,” Danish Malik added.