Maputo — Only 6.2 per cent of families in living in rural Mozambique are treating their water before drinking it, according to the national household survey conducted last year as part of the National Water and Rural Sanitation Programme (PRONASAR).
The findings of the survey were discussed at a regional seminar on the treatment and safe storage of household water.
In addition, according to Roberto De Bernardi of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), a study of water quality carried out by the Health Ministry, the Public Works Ministry and UNICEF in 18 districts in the provinces of Tete, Manica and Sofala found that 20 per cent of water sources were unfit for drinking.
"This clearly demonstrates the need to strengthen the monitoring of water quality and to develop programmes to promote the treatment of household water", said the UNICEF official.
Organised by UNICEF and the World Health Organisation alongside the Health Ministry and Public Works Ministry, the regional seminar has fifty participants from Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia.
It aims to strengthen national policies, strategies and regulations on the treatment and safe storage of household water and to support the implementation of more efficient and integrated interventions for environmental health.
In her opening speech, the head of the department of environmental health at the Health Ministry, Ana Paula Cardoso, said that the provision of clean drinking water to the population constitutes a big challenge to the national authorities.
"Water is essential for human life. Water from wells, rivers, lakes and lagoons is not safe and is a source of illnesses such as diarrhoea, cholera and intestinal parasites. Therefore the treatment and safe storage of water is important at community level", said Cardoso.
The percentage of people with access to clean water has recently increased to 60 per cent of the urban population and 54 per cent of people living in rural areas.
"The Mozambican government is continuing to improve the coverage of the water supply in urban and rural zones. It is constructing the infrastructure for water and sanitation, and promoting safe hygiene practices. In addition, better water provision substantially reduces the time taken collecting water, leaving more time for income generation and food production", said Cardoso.
The representative of the World Health Organisation, Daniel Kertesz, said that it is estimated that in developing countries the consumption of untreated water causes the death of 1.3 million children per year, about 12 per cent of the total deaths of children under the age of five.
Kertesz welcomed Mozambique's decision to convene a meeting on the prevention of cholera and diarrhoea. He also pointed out that in Malawi the Health Ministry is working with partners to distribute hygiene kits, whilst Zambia is promoting the treatment of water and changes in behaviour.