2018 Volume 2 Issue 1 Pages 39-54
The study conducted was a preliminary investigation into peri-urban water, sanitation, hygiene (WASH) and health in Lusaka, Zambia, in preparation for a future action research study incorporating children and youth as co-researchers and community change makers. According to the Zambian Central Statistical Office, only 67.7% of the Zambian population have access to improved drinking water sources and 40%, to improved sanitation (CSO 2016). In pursuit of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the United Nations (UN) has highlighted the importance of child and youth involvement in global and national challenges. In Zambia, however, their civic participation level remains limited despite over 60% of the population being under 24 years of age (CSO 2012; Innovations in Civic Participation 2010). Data collection comprised of naturalistic observations and interviews (in 9 peri-urban communities); and a short survey on WASH in 3 of the 9 visited sites (N = 318; age range = 8-89 years). Focus was on understanding current community WASH, health and civic participation of children and youth. Results revealed several challenges regarding the aforementioned focus areas. Being unplanned settlements, access to clean water, toilet and waste disposal facilities was poor for community residents. Disease outbreaks were found to occur on a yearly basis in certain sites. The civic participation of children and youth in their communities was also poor, with several young person’s not understanding the concept. The results highlighted the status quo of community WASH and health, and the intervention challenge that would be afforded the children and youth in the upcoming action research study, aiding in the development of a framework by which the children and youth could participate in the study and impact their communities on matters of WASH and health.