By Aamon Butao
Timveni investigations have uncovered the chronic challenges that some communities in Salima are facing, with waterborne diseases haunting them all year round due to failure to access clean and potable water.
The majority of children at Katumba Village, Traditional Authority Kambwiri are the biggest victims.
Speaking to some villagers, it is shocking to discover that they have never used water from the borehole and piped water and they only use water from the well.
Village Headman Katumba said they have engaged relevant authorities but nothing tangible came out.
The Malawi Government is a signatory to United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) among which goal number 6 says by 2030 government should ensure the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.
But the reality on the ground speaks otherwise. In most parts of Malawi, people are denied the right to access quality water.
Government has confirmed to Timveni that only 68% of the country’s population has access to quality and potable water.
Due to poor access to potable water, communities mainly from rural areas, do not have any choice but to rely on unsafe water sources just to get the valuable commodity.
Some go to the extent of drinking water from the same source as domestic animals.
Inevitably, waterborne diseases are still common in most areas due to lack of potable water.
For people in Katumba Village, Traditional Authority Kambwiri in Salima they have been drinking a well since 1933.
They have never tasted water from the borehole or piped water because they have never had these facilities.
Confiding in Timveni , one of the community members, Sabina Suwedi said life is unbearable in the area as each and every time community members suffer from waterborne diseases as they drink untreated water.
She said the situation gets dire during the rainy season as the well over floods, putting children’s lives at risk. Residents also fail to draw water from the well.
According to Suwedi, authorities are doing nothing to provide them with potable water.
In his remarks, village headman Katumba said it is worrisome that his subjects have water challenges.
The 600 households in the area only hear of piped water as a notion.
He said governments have come and gone, but the people are still thirsty of quality water.
The traditional leader added his community has lost hope after lobbying for a long time with no avail.
But Member of Parliament for the area which is in Salima South East, Mike Mwawa, said he is aware of the water challenges but the community has refused to replace the well with boreholes by claiming the well never dries.
He, however, said he is worried that people drink untreated water, leading to water borne diseases such as diarrhea.
Unfortunately, the people of Katumba Village do not face the pangs and pains of poor water in isolation. It is a common theme in Malawi. But, what is government saying on improving the livelihood of people from rural areas by providing them with potable water?
The 18-plus million Malawians are still waiting to have access to clean and potable water.
The 32% of marginalized Malawians are still looking forward to the 2030 deadline on SDGs with keen interest.