What is development? Is it a Pit-Latrine or a Street?
A few years ago, I travelled by road from Lusaka to my home village of Milenge, Luapula Province. On my way, I discovered that an NGO had helped build, for my people, well ventilated pit latrines utilizing very sophisticated modern methods. The latrines looked good. They were built in concrete and asbestos for roofing sheets.
However, I looked again and a majority of those latrines were not being used as toilets, but rather as storage sheds for crops. The latrines were full of maize, cassava and millet.
Obviously, the greatest need my Ushi relatives had was not for a toilet but a storage shed. They cared less about where they went for the toilet. We cared about where to store our maize, our food.
In Lusaka today, the “Donchi Kubeba” government is building modern state of the art markets. These markets are equipped with everything modern a market could ever have. Of course, except that traders do not want to use those markets. They instead want to do their business, not in that state-of-the art market, but rather on street corners.
So instead of building these modern markets for our marketeers, let us spend those billions on building more streets so that our people can use them as markets.
What good is that modern pit-latrine or that modern market? When all we need is storage shed or another street corner?