A Zimbabwean minister says most of the country's people in rural areas do not appreciate the need to use toilets resulting in the now frequent outbreak of water borne diseases such as cholera and typhoid.
Water Resources Development and Management minister Samuel Sipepa Nkomo said 48 percent of the rural population had no toilets.
"Ministers were laughing at me when I told them that our assessments show that 48 percent of Zimbabweans in rural areas use bush toilets," Nkomo told journalists.
"They could not believe me. Our studies show that this is true. I told my colleagues that some of them can't fit into some of the toilets that the villagers use.
"Most homes in the country especially in the rural areas have no toilets."
Zimbabwe has been hit by numerous outbreaks of cholera and typhoid since the turn of the millennium.
The outbreaks have been blamed on the collapse of water and sewer infrastructure in urban centers, which have not been properly maintained due to unending economic problems.
The government and aid agencies have been promoting the use of pit latrines to address the problem of poor sanitation.
Nkomo said the lack of running water was not the only reason villagers were not using toilets and instead blamed it on culture.
"I think first of all villagers, most villagers do not appreciate the need to have and use toilets," he said.
"Most of them grew up in an era where it was unthinkable to use toilets. When I grew up there was nothing like that [toilets]."
The worst cholera outbreak that hit Zimbabwe between 2008 and 2009 killed over 4 000 people and infected about 90 000.
Last year a typhoid outbreak began in the capital Harare and has been rapidly spreading to other centers.
United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) Zimbabwe representative Gianni Murzi was quoted by The Standard newspaper saying 35 percent of the country's rural households do not have access to safe drinking water.
"There is further discrepancy in the provision of adequate sanitation as 69 percent of rural households do not have improved toilet facilities," he said.
Most urban centers including Harare go for days without water due to dwindling supplies forcing residents to resort to unprotected sources.