Mphatso Nkuonera –Mana
Lilongwe Water Board (LWB) has refused to supply potable water to Mchitanjiru residents which was one of the hot spot areas of cholera during the 2017/2018 rainy season, saying the area falls under Central Region Water Board (CRWB).
Assistant Public Relations Officer, Vanessa Chidyaonga made the remarks at Mchitanjiru Primary School recently where several duty bearers had an interface meeting with Golombe and Chikwera Bwalo forums initiated by Parent and Child Healthy Initiative (PACHI) through Cholera Preparedness and Response Accountability Project who convened to discuss and provide solutions to critical health problems.
“Mchitanjiru and other areas in Lilongwe city surely need clean water but we are not the rightful body to provide the services in this area. Therefore we will rope in CRWB, to assist them.
“We are dedicated to provide services but the city development plans are more adversary to it because earlier on, the plans were that the city would be growing towards the north which is fully provided for with water. To the contrary, the city is growing southwards and we do not have ready tanks and other needed technical materials to help,” Chidyaonga said.
CRWB, through its Spokesperson, Zeferino Mitumba said it is mandated to supply water in semi-urban areas in the central region denying responsibility saying it cannot supply water in the city of Lilongwe likely area in question.
“I would like to enlighten that I don’t know the area you are referring to because we have only 22 water supply schemes, namely Kasungu Municipality, Santhe TC, Kochilira –Kamwendo, Mchinji Boma, Mkanda TC, Dwangwa TC, Nkhota-kota Boma, Lifuwu, Salima Lakeshore, Salima Boma;
“Chipoka, Ntcheu Boma, Bembeke Dedza Boma, Dedza Secondary School, Linthipe 1, Mitundu TC, Bunda College, Madisi, Mponela, Dowa Boma and Ntchisi Boma. Therefore does it match any of the mentioned places or which of the mentioned schemes is near it? The place you are talking about is not serviced yet,” said Mitumba when responding to a questionnaire.
Senior Environmental Health Officer, Samson Kumphale who represented the office of Lilongwe District Heath Office asked why LWB was selective in providing services saying other areas within its jurisdiction were being provided services with rapid response.
“Lilongwe DHO’s office is deemed as a failure in containing cholera in some areas because some relevant authorities have surely failed to deliver their services well, can you consider engaging the CRWB with speed?” pleaded Kumphale.
Speaking on the sidelines of the meeting, Senior GVH Mchitanjiru said he was surprised why LWB publicly disowned them yet it had constructed a tank just close to his village some years back but it’s not benefitting them.
“It’s unfortunate that LWB is depriving us such a very important service which is life. It was the use of unsafe water that escalated cholera cases in my area besides open defecation and failure to practice hygiene methods which claimed three lives.
“Out of 600 households only 250 had toilets by December 2017, but currently 450 households have toilets and August 30 is set as deadline for the remaining households to dig toilets or be fined K20, 000 for defying this order.
“To maximize hygiene we have ordered the construction of toilets in all graveyards in my area because during funerals it is another time of intense open defecations for an area with 1, 250 people,” said SGVH Mchitanjiru.
He then appealed for the construction of a clinic in the area saying the current situation of relying on Nathenje, Kawale and Bwaila was negatively affecting them since all these health facilities are very far to reach.
Ground Water Development Officer, Grace Masautso, who represented the office of Lilongwe District Commissioner advised the residents to use Village and Area Development Committees to demand the clinic through the Councilors and Member of Parliament, considering that Local Development Fund and District Development Fund were tools to answer their challenges.
PACHI is a Non-Governmental Organization which is implementing Cholera Preparedness and Response Accountability Project with financial aid from UNICEF in order to contain and prevent cholera in hot spot areas in Lilongwe with an aim of preventing cholera outbreak.