The concern was raised at GVH Mwenyekondo’s residence on Sunday when Umodzi Bwalo Forum Committee under Parent and Child Health Initiative (PACHI) met to discuss health issues affecting them.
“Our lives in this community are at risk of suffering from several water and airborne diseases because we are living amidst a huge population of pigs being raised at the upper site of the locality.
“Painfully, dirty and stinking water where pigs have bathed flows down in the drains past houses and with so many wells alongside the drains where children jump in as they play,” GVH Mwenyekondo said.
He said the situation was creating tension after the farmer concerned turned down the communities’ proposal for him to remove the pig kraal to another place to make the environment in the area habitable again.
Pig kraal within a compacted settlement of Mwenyekondo
“The Muslim community is more irked and they wanted to descend on him [pigs’ owner] several times to demolish the kraal, but traditional leaders have always calmed the situation.
But when it comes to the worst, some drastic steps can be taken because the environment is very unhygienic and getting out of hand,” he added.
The matter, according to GVH Mwenyekondo, was referred to Lilongwe City Council, Health Department and Veterinary Office who took the matter to court in 2016, but he said the population of pigs is still growing.
“It is raising eyebrows, court judgment ordered that the pigs be moved to outskirts of the city so that people live comfortably, but this order is not being respected,” said the local leader.
Member of Umodzi group, Abese Dickson 38, said the problem was worse because when the local leaders asked for the transfer of the pigs in 2016, the GVH was arrested after the owner of pigs, James Fologonya had reported the matter to police.
“How do you arrest someone for demanding for a healthier environment? We will not stop this time even if it means sending us to jail because our environment is very unhealthy,” Dickson said.
This reporter’s visit to James Fologonya’s compound found piles of dung and a pond of water with spillage and outlet leading into drains past the neighbours’ houses.
The neighbours said were failing to endure the bad smell. Fologonya accepted keeping the pigs but he refused to comment. Director of Animal Health and Livestock Development in the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, Dr Patrick Chikungwa, said animal production in towns may be a source of disease transmission to humans which should be guarded.
“There are so many dangers of keeping animals amidst people as some owners do not take care of them in terms of vaccination and dipping them in chemicals,” Chikungwa said.
When asked through a questionnaire to comment on the issue, Lilongwe City Council Public Relations Officer, Tamara Chafunya refused to respond to the questionnaire when this reporter followed it up by a phone call, saying she was busy.
She could not also answer the phone call made later to contact her. However, one of the senior officials at Lilongwe City Council said the issue was real and that it had reached that far because of weakness of the laws and irresponsibility of citizens.
“Poor integration and coordination of our laws like the Public Health Act, Environmental Act, Water and sanitation Act, Local Government Act and others contribute to the mess.
The punishments mentioned there are very weak to deter others [from committing the offences],” said the official who opted not to be mentioned.
According to Group Village headman Mwenyekondo, there are 3,900 households and approximately 20, 000 people in his area.
He said other problems in his area include unplanned construction, and availability of too many beer drinking joints and rest houses which he said are a source of increased crime in the area.
In Lilongwe, PACHI is implementing Cholera Preparedness and Response Accountability Project with financial aid from UNICEF in order to contain and prevent cholera in hot spot areas.