Use of sewage in irrigating vegetable gardens worries Blantyre residents

Residents of Zingwangwa and Manyowe Townships in Blantyre have expressed concern over the use of sewage waste disposal to irrigate vegetables by some farmers in the area.

Part of the crops being irrigated by the sewage water

Part of the sewage system being used by farmers in Manyowe

It has been noted that over the past years, some farmers grow vegetables and different crops using water which is discharged from the sewage tanks situated in Zingwangwa and Manyowe townships.

The vegetables which flourish remarkably due to the sewage waste composed of human fecal waste are later sold to residents around the townships and in markets around the commercial city, a thing which some residents have questioned as whether the crops are not a health risk.

Speaking in an interview, one of the residents from Manase Township, Watson Chimphango, said the development raises fear regarding people’s health because when they go to the market they do not know how the vegetables are grown.

“As much as we understand that human waste products are used in agriculture, we do not know how safe the vegetables being grown using the sewage from Zingwangwa and Manyowe are. Moreover, it seems these people are just encroachers which means they are not taking into account any safety measures when using the sewage but just doing it arbitrary which is very risky,” he said.

Chimphango called on Blantyre City Council (BCC) to look into the matter urgently to avoid another major health scare similar to that which took place in Area 18 in Lilongwe where the sewage found itself in the main water system of Lilongwe Water Board.

When contacted, BCC Public Relations Manager, Anthony Kasunda refused to comment on the matter saying the council is not aware of farming activities around Blantyre.

However, a recent visit at one of the irrigation sites at Manyowe  saw piles of the sewage waste disposal heaped on the farm land with sewage water being used to irrigate different crops ranging from maize to vegetables.

Commenting on the issue, Malawi Health Equity Network (MEHN) Executive Director, George Jobe, said the consumers of such products risk suffering from different ailments considering that such waste products are hazardous.

He said it is better for the farmers to use human waste manure which has been properly treated with necessary chemicals unlike using such sewage waste disposal.

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Hlabezulu Ngonoonda
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Correct. It is better for the farmers to use human waste which has been properly treated with necessary chemicals unlike using untreated sewage waste disposal. However, as long as untreated wastewater continues flow into rivers and streams, there will always be a growing threat to people’s health eating vegetables irrigated with untreated water. The amount of land being irrigated with untreated water is much greater now and is contributing serious implications for the health of people. In Blantyre, wastewater from industrial areas enters into Limbe, Mudi, Naperi Rivers and other smaller streams where the stinking foam froths at the rivers’… Read more »
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