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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 October, 2003, 07:35 GMT 08:35 UK
Zambia's garbage hell
Rubsta Mpuvula
Rubsta Mpuvula deplores the state of Lusaka's slums
A staggering one billion people currently live in slums, according to a United Nations report - the Slum Challenge - released this week.

In the Zambian capital, Lusaka, nearly half a million of the city's two million people live in sub-standard housing, as Rubsta Mpuvula explained to the BBC's Penny Dale during a tour of Kanyama suburb.

I am the neighbourhood committee chairman for Kanyama, a community which has a catchment of about 120,000 people.

We have no system of managing our garbage situation in the community and hence the people just dump garbage indiscriminately, in the middle of the roads.

They have chosen this part to be a dumping site because when you go into the houses, nearly every house has no space to dump their garbage.

Most of this is charcoal - you know, most of the houses here have no electricity and they use charcoal. So this is the charcoal waste and ashes which have been thrown about.

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Also there is no recycling system for plastic material in our country.

And small children walk and play all around.


There is a problem with housing here - the houses are so few that a single house is turned into many apartments for occupation by different families.

You will find that in one house there are five, six, eight families in the same house... you will find some families have up to 10 members.

Boy near rubbish in road
Kanyama's children have rubbish dumps for playgrounds

Some house have cracks or are not repainted. Most are not plastered and yet this is a planned area under the city council. So they should not be building like this. According to law it is not allowed.

There is a very high demand for housing in Kanyama - but it is not in Kanyama alone.

This is because most people are migrating from the villages coming into town to look for employment.

All these doors you see around, there are different families living in there.

Some of them are very tiny, quite small rooms - most of them are perhaps 3m by 3m.

Raw sewage

Not all the houses have pit latrines - in fact I would say that out of 10 houses, four have pit latrines.

But we are worried about the six without latrines - they either do not have space to dig pit latrines because they have developed the whole plot into houses, or the pit latrines are filled up.

Woman doing her washing
In the rainy season, raw sewage flows through the streets
It is a big problem.

Some people who have problems with their neighbours end up either going at night illegally by the roadside, or they usually use empty opaque beer packets.

And then they dump it on the road.

In the rainy season we have a problem because the pit latrines tend to get full because of the water table. The underground is very rocky so the few pit latrines that are deep tend to bring up the faeces, breeding many diseases, especially diarrhoeal diseases.

There is no drainage system in existence.

Kanyama on its own is plateau like - flat land - which is very rocky and does not absorb water.

Whenever there are rains water tends to stagnate, hence the problem of mosquitoes, and especially the problem of diarrhoeal diseases like cholera.

BBC's Penny Dale reports from a Lusaka compound
"We have no system of managing our garbage, hence people dump indiscriminately"

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