Water transmitted diseases are the fifth leading cause of global mortality. According to World Health Organization (WHO) estimates, 94% of water transmitted diseases could be prevented with access to clean water and sanitation. Despite the promising returns to investment in clean water and sanitation, individual use of disease prevention products, like water chlorination tablets and water guard is low in Malawi.
As one of the way to generate evidence on the causes of cholera in Kauma, PACHI conducted a household survey which concentrated on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene among others. This was done in preparation of the formation of bwalo forum.
Meet Soweto a village within kauma-lilongwe without access to clean water. Soweto village is a home to more than 1226 people but has no boreholes nor wells. Women have to travel for a distance of about 2km to have access to clean water which they buy in kiosks and it gets more difficult during the rainy season because they have to pass along the steep slopes with water buckets on their heads which becomes tiresome and they resort in drawing water in the nearby Lilongwe River or private wells.
During an interview with PACHI, village headman Steven Phiri said although his village harbors a lot of people, access to clean water is a challenge. Households verbalized to use water dug from pit latrine stings. ‘People identify areas to dig latrines, but during the process water is accessed from the very same pits’ said Steven Phiri
He further said he was not surprised with the news that his areas was one of the areas in Kauma hit. ‘During the rainy season the open sewers flood in Lilongwe river and contaminate the water, this is also the time when our women use the river most instead of tap water as it becomes hard for them to go and draw water from our neighboring villages because of the slopes’
A woman drawing water from the river
Banda further clarified that Soweto village is a new settlement area were people are flocking to each and every passing day because of overpopulation in other areas. Bringing portable water in his area will not only reduce the risk of cholera outbreaks but also help to improve sanitation in general.
One of the open sewers
Cholera is an infectious diarrheal disease that can kill within hours if left untreated. It is spread by eating food or drinking water contaminated with the bacterium Vibriocholerae. It causes acute watery diarrhea and vomiting, which can lead to extreme dehydration, causing the body to go into shock due to a drop in blood pressure. The disease occurs in countries or areas where people lack access to clean water and decent hygienic toilets, and where hygiene practices are poor. Outbreaks can also often occur after natural disasters or during humanitarian emergencies where water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services are inadequate.