Umbwi Secondary School students march against dry water taps

Students from Umbwi Secondary School in Malawi’s central district of Dedza on Friday lost their cool and marched to the district’s water board offices to push the authorities to address water shortage problems they have been experiencing since the school opened on September 3.

The action comes after the students lost patience waiting for the precious commodity after their school’s administration failed to take up the issue with the district’s water authorities.

According to one of the form 4 students, Chimwemwe Jailosi, water has been scarce at the campus since the school opened on 3rd September forcing them to travel long distances in search of it.

Women return from fetching water.- Credit:Charles Mpaka/IPS

“We are failing to concentrate on our studies because we are always moving around looking for water,” he said.

“Ever since, we have been using water from Linthipe River but now the river is dry and we instead draw water from a communal water point where we pay MK200 regardless of the bucket one has used including a 2 liter bottle,” said another student.

The development is forcing some students attend classes without taking a bath and also is posing threat of waterborne diseases as the students who don’t have money to buy water  resort to using  untreated water from unprotected wells.

The school’s new headmaster Kalirani Chunga confirmed the water problem.

“I fact I have been at the school for just a week now but I am told that this is a perennial problem especially during the months of September and October,” he said.

The Dedza Water Board zone area manager Richard Kumwembe declined to comment anything on the matter to reporters but he assured the students that water would start trickle down the taps as soon as they return to their school.

District Education Manager for the district, Billy Banda, said the situation is worrisome and there are fears of water borne disease outbreaks as some of the students are using water from unprotected sources.

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