By Alfred Mthandizi
Malawi Health Equity Network (MHEN) has asked Lilongwe City Council to compensate Area 18 residence for contaminating its water through its sewer system.
Lilongwe City Mayor Desmond Bikoko recently admitted that sewage water has contaminated Lilongwe Water Board pipe, which supplies water to area 18 residents.
Nevertheless the development has angered the health rights organization. They released a strong worded statement calling upon LCC to compensate the residents for the psychological trauma.
“Compensation (refunds) should be considered for the costs incurred in the wasted contaminated water, for seeking alternative sources of drinking water and the psychological trauma for the affected families who used the contaminated water.” reads the statement.
In a statement jointly signed by its board chair Edward Chileka Banda and MEHN Executive Director George Jobs, the health rights organisation is calling for proper investigation on the issue.
“We want the cause of this unhealthy situation to be identified, as it raises a lot of unanswered questions:
· Who was negligent, Lilongwe Water Board or the City of Lilongwe?
· For how long was the sewer system damaged and not maintained?
· For how long was the water pipe damaged and not maintained?
· Has the sewer system been maintained as well?
· What health measure interventions will be carried on for the people of the concerned location(s)?
· Will any medical professionals visit the households in the concerned locations?
· What lessons have been drawn from this unfortunate occurrence?
· What about other places where possible water contamination cannot be noticed with a naked eye?
· Do we have a body that periodically tests quality of our water from water boards at the point of consumptions?”
The statement continues.
MEHN said it is common in most towns and cities that damaged sewer take time to be maintained, and Lilongwe is no exception. MEHN also observed that Lilongwe Water Board (LWB) is also often slow to maintain broken water pipes.
“We have heard of people who reported a broken pipe in Biwi Location, through the Biwi Zonal Office, weeks ago still no action from the Board. The resident had to call the LWB Head Office for action happen. LWB needs to improve on its responsiveness, as water is an integral part of health.” reads the statement.
MEHN says the mixing up of water and sewer according to area 18 is violation of human rights.
“Malawi Health Equity Network (MHEN) would like to express its dismay concerning mixing Lilongwe Water Board piped water with sewage in Area 18 in Lilongwe. This is a gross violation of human rights and a health hazard. Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights dictates that “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.” reads the statement.
MEHN conduct in our opinion emanates from recklessness and lack of regard to ensure close monitoring and checking water boards’ pipes routinely.”
MHEN is an independent, non-profit alliance of over ninety civil society organizations in the health sector interested in promoting equitable access to quality, affordable and responsive health care services in Malawi. It achieves this through influencing policy formulation, review, and practice.