By: Feston Konzani
While the world is celebrating World Water Day, many people who operate their businesses in Blantyre Central Business District (CBD) are still using unsafe water for cooking and even drinking.
Investigations by The Malawi Star has uncovered that people in the heart of Blantyre continue to use water from a sewer for cooking and some even drink it.
When questioned by this publication why this continues to be the case, the concerned public revealed that they seem abandoned by the two parastatals.
They fumed that the Blantyre Water Board (BWB) and Blantyre City Council (BCC) had not installed any water taps for them to use.
“We have been complaining about this problem for so long but our complaints are never taken into consideration by them. The water is so bad that sometimes it smells as if it’s directly from a toilet but we have no option but to use it,” fumed one business owner.
“We use water that even if you gave the same to a dog, an organization will stand up in defence of the animal by saying it is cruelty. But we use this water because there is nowhere else for us to go and get safe water to drink or use for cooking,” said another woman who runs a salon in the area.
Walking around CBD, you will hardly see any water taps or kiosks where you can get safe water. This is the centre of Blantyre and it is where money is made but the water is simply a precious commodity that is why you see so many people selling water in plastic tubes.
When asked whether they knew that today was World Water Day, their only response was that they were not aware of such a day’s existence.
“What does that mean to us? Of what benefit is that to us when we continue to drink this unhealthy water every day. Some of the water that you see being sold in plastic tubes are drawn from the same sewers and they simply add water guard and are sold to the unsuspecting public,” said another disgruntled business owner.
According to the Blantyre District State of Environment and outlook report released in June 2014, it acknowledges that Mudi, Nasolo, Naperi, Limbe, Likhubula rivers show some degree of faecal contamination; adding that pathogenic microorganisms could be present could be present making it risky for human consumption.
The World Health Organisation has said that water resources are an important fraction of the burden of water-related diseases.
Seeking to verify the allegations, our reporter travelled across the city and discovered that there were no water taps except within business compounds where the gates were kept locked. No one was allowed to get into those compounds to draw water for use and it only seemed the sewers were the only option.
International world water day is held annually on 22 March as a means of focusing attention on the importance of freshwater and advocating for the sustainable management of fresh water resources.
An international day to celebrate freshwater was recommended at the 1992 United Nations conference on Environment and development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro. The UN general assembly responded by designating 22nd March as the first world water day.
Efforts to speak to any officials from both Blantyre Water Board and Blantyre City Council about the situation proved futile as no one was available for comment.