Health and Nutrition
by Robert Joppa, Gumira, Chipinge District, Zimbabwe
According to Mr. Mukusay, the nurse in charge, 60-70 percent of the people here in Gumica have bilharzia, also called schistosomiasis. (It's a disease caused by a parasite picked up in water that harbors snails, which are hosts to the parasite.) We also have a problem with malaria during the rainy season and with cholera because thieves stole wire fencing around the borehole. The fencing prevented domestic animals from coming close and contaminating the water. The only borehole with fencing is the Dakote River borehole, but goats seem to be able to get through. Last year several people died from cholera, but the community took no action.
As far as nutrition is concerned, Gumira is not scoring any points, as food is very limited in variety. We mostly eat sadza, a corn mush with the consistency of mashed potatoes with no flavor and almost no nutrition. Sadza is eaten with a green leafy vegetable called rape, and, if you can afford it, goat meat. If you are rich, you can get beef or chicken. Whenever I cook American style(or, as they say, "European"), people are always amazed by the fact that there is taste. People don't seem to eat for pleasure here, but only to survive.
Boiling water from Save would probably result in the best tasting drinking water around. Great idea, but boiling would be cost-prohibitive, since during the war most of the trees were cut down and all firewood is imported from the mountains. The mountains are currently running out of wood also, so firewood has become very expensive. Solar cookers could help lessen this problem. However, people here are extremely afraid of witchcraft. Cooking with a box and no fire is too strange. Gas is also a good alternative, but everyone is afraid of being blown up. Solutions are never easy.
by Christopher Thomas, Masonga/Samhutsa, Zimbabwe
There is a lot of clean water for drinking and everyday usage in Masonga. Drinking water is always taken only from boreholes or natural springs instead of the river. There is no problem with contamination.