Tread carefully on banning use of shallow wells cautions Health Committee

A woman drawing water from a shallow well

The Parliamentary Committee on Health has spoken against banning the use of shallow wells which are seen to be major contributors of Cholera without providing any alternative solutions.

The sentiments follow a survey by the Lilongwe Water Board  (LWB) in Mtsiriza, Mtandire and Area 36 which showed that ground water in these areas is highly contaminated.

Health Committee Chairperson Dr. Mathews Ngwale noted that the use of the wells is prevalent in the cities in places like Bangwe, Zingwangwa, Mtandire and other densely populated areas.

Ngwale who made the remarks during a meeting with the Ministry of Water and sanitation, Lilongwe, Blantyre and Mzuzu city councils on the Cholera situation, described the proposal to ban shallow wells as quite political hence difficult to implement.

“If you ban them what you’re doing is actually doing it to please people who stay in Namiwawa where they don’t need them. So what I was suggesting was that instead of banning, let’s provide solutions for the people that are drinking from the shallow wells. People that drink from shallow wells have got reasons; one of the reasons is that there isn’t any water board supply of water in some areas.

Some of the Parliamentary Committee on Health members captured during the interface 

“People are staying in the mountains of Soche today, Bangwe and they’ve climbed up the mountains to build houses; now it you ban shallow wells there, where shall those people drink from?

“That’s why we’re saying lets provide solutions. When they draw water from the shallow well, let’s provide an officer who’ll be supplying chlorine to each and every pail that leaves that place. That means we are assuring ourselves that each and every household is getting protected water”

Ngwale rated government’s Cholera response as reasonably well as in some districts the number of cases has gone down significantly.

“The problems are actually remaining in the cities mainly because of what I’m talking about; people drinking from unprotected wells. When they draw water from those unprotected wells, we’re doing nothing about protecting that water of that family through chlorinating the water, so once we do that, we’re also going to see a huge drop in number of cases in the cities”.

He pointed out that Malawi has lived through the disaster stage and figures are now coming down but there is still need to intensify awareness campaigns on the disease.