Water for People, a non-governmental organisation that advocates for safe drinking water in the country, has urged communities to thoroughly treat their water before consumption.
The organisation believes increasing access to safe drinking water is the only way for the country to effectively avert possible cholera outbreaks ahead of the rainy season.
Water for People country manager Kate Harawa made the remarks at a press briefing in Blantyre on Tuesday where the organisation announced it would partner Blantyre City Council (BCC) during this year’s commemorations of Global Hand washing Day.
“We are satisfied with the quality of water from the water utility bodies. Despite facing several challenges in their daily endeavours, water boards strive to always provide portable water. However, we are also concerned with the urban poor who usually rely on alternative water sources. Not only is such water scarce; it is also rarely safe,” she said.
According to Harawa, there was a need for relevant stakeholders to make domestic water treatment technologies easily accessible to such population, arguing that the water they get from the streams within cities and towns can harm lives.
She added: “We are talking of rivers that have been turned to dumpsites for households and industries alike. This has led to continued contamination of the same. We need concerted efforts to curb this, otherwise we may just be moving in circles in our efforts to tame such outbreaks.”
In his remarks, BCC deputy director of Health and Social Services Samden Seunda revealed that the council was considering increasing awareness on hand washing.
“Simple as it may sound, effective hand washing with soap is fundamental to good health and development. Just as this year’s theme, Clean Hands for All, handwashing is key to nipping various waterborne diseases in the bud,” he said.
Malawi first joined the international community in commemorating the day in 2008. According to Seunda, the event has helped in checking hygiene in the city, arguing residents keep learning from past mistakes.
The commemorations, to be preceded by a solidarity march from College of Medicine in the morning, are slated for Thursday at St Pious Primary School in the city.