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New Zealand Medical Services in Middle East and Italy

Native Labour

Native Labour

The Egyptian labourers, of whom there were two thousand employed during the first year, proved a constant trouble as regards sanitation. They had polluted the whole camp area before the troops arrived and it took one hundred labourers two months to clean up the excreta. Then followed a long-drawn-out fight to persuade the natives to use the bucket latrines provided for them and to keep them clean.

Very large numbers of Egyptian labourers continued to be employed in the camps under the engineers in making roads, building huts, shower-houses, and latrines, on the staffs of NAAFI, the laundry, and later of the ice-cream factory; while the sanitary contractors dealing with the kitchen refuse and with the latrines also used native labour. They were dirty and often lousy; a later page 52 improvement was the erection of shower huts for them at the entrance to the camp, where they were washed and their clothes disinfested. There was a constant menace of the possible spread of infectious disease. Typhus was endemic in Egypt and at times serious outbreaks occurred in Cairo. Typhoid and dysentery were prevalent and careful watch had to be kept to see that no carriers were placed in positions in the camp that would allow the spread of these infections. Bacteriological investigations of stools were carried out regularly when Egyptians were employed in handling food either in camp or later at the New Zealand Forces Club in Cairo. Hawkers were not allowed in the camp and all the labourers had to have a pass.