Malawi health watchdog urge compensation to Lilongwe residents for contaminating water with sewage

 Malawi Health Equity Network (MHEN) has condemned Lilongwe City Council for contaminating water with its sewer system, demanding compesation to the residents who were affected.

Jobe: MEHN calling for proper investigation

In a statement jointly signed by its board chair Edward Chileka Banda and MEHN Executive Director George Jobe, the health rights body is calling for proper investigation on the issue so that at the end people should have full and complete information.

More questions than answers

“We want the cause of this unhealthy situation to be established, 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 measures interventions will be carried on people of the concerned location(s)? Any medical people to visit the households concerned?

“What lessons have been drawn from this sad 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 consumption?” reads the statement in part.

Responsiveness urged

MEHN said it is common in most towns and cities that damaged sewer take time to be maintained, and Lilongwe is no exception.

The group also observed that Lilongwe Water Board (LWB) is sometimes slow to maintain broken water pipes.

“We have heard of people who reported a broken pipe in Biwi Location, through the Biwi Zonal Office, some weeks ago and three days passed with no action from the Board. It had to take the person call the LWB Head Office for action happen. LWB needs to improve on its responsiveness to issues, as water is an integral part of health,” reads the statement in part.

MEHN says the mixing up of water and sewer as the case of Area 18 is violation of human rights.

“Malawi Health Equity Network (MHEN) would like to express its dismay over the recent development concerning mixing up of Lilongwe Water Board piped water with sewage in Area 18 in Lilongwe. This is a gross violation of human rights as it touches on human life 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 personThis conduct in our opinion emanates from recklessness and lack of regard to ensure close monitoring and cheycking of the functioning of the water boards pipes from time to time.”

Meanwhile, MHEN has called for the relevant authorities to compensate people of Area 18 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.

MHEN is an independent, non-profit making 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. MHEN was formed in the year 2000.

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