12 June 2013

Zambia: Mpulungu in Cholera Scare

MORE than half of Mpulungu District's population has no access to piped water, giving rise to fears of a cholera outbreak.

The area has already recorded one confirmed case of cholera since the first quarter of the year began.

Environmental health officers said water samples tested from other water sources in the district showed they were contaminated with faecal matter.

This came to light at the Northern Province Epidemic Preparedness Committee meeting held in Kasama last Thursday.

Water supply in Mpulungu was disturbed after pipes were damaged during the ongoing township road rehabilitation programme, which had seen contractors plough through the pipes.

Northern Province deputy Permanent Secretary Raphael Sakala said the provincial administration was treating the issue with urgency.

"Water provision in Mpulungu has been erratic and what is needed is a complete overhaul of the water systems.

"So we are going to have the works re-tendered because the current contractors for road works had not factored in issues of the water system and the need to replace damaged pipes," Mr Sakala said.

He said the province was in the process of coming up with a budget line for submission to the Disaster Management and Mitigation Unit to procure necessities like lime and chlorine.

This would help reduce the contamination levels of water sources which residents were relying on.

Health experts who attended the meeting suggested a number of interventions to stem a fresh cholera outbreak.

Mpulungu District Commissioner Julian Chuzu said the major impediment to addressing the perennial cholera outbreak was the refusal by lakeshore villagers to relocate to other areas.

She said she was worried that some fishing settlements on the shores of Lake Tanganyika remained sites of major outbreaks.

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