Namisa Blogger of the year 2013,Stimulating the much needed debate

ImageWaterborne diseases are likely to affect Malawi’s Capital, Lilongwe residents as the waste are left unattended to year in-year out in the market places surrounding the city.

With a blame game taking center stage between the City Council Authorities, business persons and some residents, the threat is fast rising following the recent 60 cholera cases which have been recorded in the southern part of the Sub-Saharan country. “We are afraid that any time we may fall victims of cholera. Just imagine, if the disease has already been reported in Blantyre City, what about here in Lilongwe where almost everywhere is dirt?” asked Victor Phiri, a restaurant owner who plies his business in the city’s major flea market which is along Lilongwe River.

According to Ministry of Health Public Relations Officer, Henry Chimbali, 59 cases of cholera have been confirmed in Chikhwawa district and one in Blantyre City (which is regarded as the cleanliness city in the country), both from the southern region.

Lilongwe district health Officer Mavuto Thomas said that they have been leasing with Lilongwe City Council (LCC) on the delay to remove the refuse.

“But they communicated to us that they are failing to remove the wastes due to fuel shortage crisis which has rocked country,” he said.

According to some media reports, liquid waste management, fresh water quality in Malawi is greatly affected by human activities, like agriculture, effluent discharge and refuses dumping. The contamination of these water resources could also be attributed to the poor sanitation facilities, frequent break down and overloading.

“Waste from factories and market sites which is mostly uncollected find its way in Lilongwe River which is used mostly by the vendors for cooking and some people downstream thereby polluting the river and putting the lives of people at risk,” said Chirambo

He said there is need for companies to have waste water treatment systems unlike dumping them in the rivers.

“The waste has some elements which when disposed in the river they are harmful to the biodiversity and the people who use it,” he said.

Kwanjana said the city faces problems like limited resources, capacity, public attitudes and willingness to spend on waste, fast growing urban population which surpasses provided social facilities, administrative machinery and social-political influence.

“Our initiative is on community involvement through workshops for Members of Assembly, consultative meetings with stakeholders, radio programmes on sanitation, writing to residents.

“We are also planning to review of waste management By-Laws to take into account current democratic freedoms and also to conduct clean up campaigns,” Kwanjana is quoted in the media.

Lilongwe City Council’s spokesperson Tamara Chafunya said that fuel crisis is one of the major challenge that has lead them to fail to collect refuse in townships around Lilongwe.

“We are much concerned and aware about the abundant waste in many areas. But we are being jeopardized with the fuel crisis the country is facing and in all our tracks we don’t have fuel when fuel problem in over it will be okay” she said.

Chafunya said that they have a lot of refuse tracks and they are able to collect all the refuse in a short period of time as long as fuel is available. The development has come barely days when ministry of health has confirmed cholera out break in chikwawa and Blantyre respectively and about 60 people have been affected.

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