HomeLocalBorehole water for residents of Mbare

Borehole water for residents of Mbare

The residents recently sent a distress call following a spate of cases of people suffering from severe stomach pains, vomiting and diarrhoea.
More than 20 families were affected raising fears that the infamous 2008 cholera outbreak had revisited the community.

 

“I feel very relieved,” Miriam Munyukwi (63) said.

“For me, the borehole brings memories of the safer village wells and I believe it will reduce our exposure to the diseases caused by the dirty water from the taps.

“We will now drink the borehole water and use the tap water for cooking and laundry.”

Munyukwi’s two grandchildren were among those treated for stomach pains at Mbare Polyclinic in the past two weeks.

Like most victims, the six-year-old boy and four-year-old girl complained of stomach pains and passed watery stools for days, eliminating chances of cholera which kills within hours if not treated immediately.

The Mbare cases were referred to Beatrice Road Infectious Diseases Hospital where the victims were examined.

Tests for cholera turned out negative. The disease is caused by bacteria called Vibrio Cholerae and spreads fast in unhygienic conditions.
Among other symptoms, the disease presents itself with watery diarrhoea and sometimes vomiting.

It is contracted through intake of contaminated water and food.

“We suspected cholera because the water we have been getting from the taps looks dirty and is smelly,” Charity Ruka said.

“If examined with the naked eye, the water sometimes looks green in colour and stains clothes when used for laundry.

“My family resorted to buying drinking water from supermarkets long ago but not everyone in this community can afford that.”

Munyukwi said even the Aquatabs tablets given to her by a donor organisation could not adequately “purify” the water.

A substantial amount of green to greyish particles would sit at the bottom of the bucket everytime the tablets were added to the water.

Mbare residents have reason to fear a resurgence of the deadly cholera because their suburb was among those hardest hit by the 2008 outbreak that killed nearly 4 000 people countrywide.

Samuel Mapurisa, the Jourburg Lines Residents’ Committee chairperson said although they were happy about the new borehole, more needed to be done to protect residents of one of Harare’s oldest residential areas.

“We believe that the unclean environment is playing a role in all this,” Mapurisa said.

“There is a lot of uncollected rubbish lying around the suburb and we are exposed to health hazards even more in this rainy season.”

Despite the city’s weekly garbage collection, mounds of litter are found at almost every corner of this part of Mbare.

Flies could be seen buzzing around both on the rubbish piles and in water puddles forming in the potholed roads.

Mapurisa said they also suspected that the water delivery system had broken down and sewerage was leaking, leading to contamination of the water.
Environmental Management Authority publicity manager Steady Kangata said poor waste management practices contribute to outbreaks of water borne diseases including cholera.

“At EMA, we urge all authorities to timeously collect refuse, clear illegal dumps and timeously repair burst sewer pipes,” Kangata said.

“Residents should also timeously report these environmental hazards to authorities so that they can be attended to urgently.

“As for Harare, it sits on its catchment area so all the industrial and domestic pollution is washed into Lake Chivero, the source of drinking water, exposing all of us to health risks.”

Although health officials allayed cholera fears, the Harare Residents Trust urged council to upgrade standards in the area to avoid a likely outbreak.

“The HRT insists that to safeguard the health of residents living under the current squalid living conditions in Jourburg Lines, relevant authorities should urgently address the issue of overcrowding, dilapidated water and sewerage reticulation infrastructure and improve service provision, especially refuse collection,” reads part of a statement by the residents’ organisation.

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