Poor sanitation at mining site worries health authorities

Authorities at Kasungu District Health Office (DHO) have expressed concern with the state of sanitation and hygiene at a mining site at Chimbiya in Traditional Authority Wimbe, fearing it could spark cholera outbreak.

Gold deposits in Chimbiya stream have attracted a horde of miners who have congested the site, extracting the precious metal at a place that has no single Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (Wash) facility.

Inspecting the area on Monday, Wash Coordinator for Kasungu DHO, Maclear Masambuka, said the absence of wash facilities, specifically toilets and clean water, makes the area a fertile ground for a cholera outbreak.

“What we have seen here is a serious health hazard that could explode into diseases like cholera. There are literary no toilets such that the miners use the nearby bush to relieve themselves while others defecate in the same stream they fetch water for domestic use.

“Worse still, this is a rainy season, meaning all the fecal matter in the bushes is carried and deposited into the stream which is the only source of water here as there are no boreholes around,” he said.

Masambuka urged the local chiefs in the area to ensure that they quickly dig toilets around the site to avert the possible occurrence of diseases.

Group Village Head Chimbiya said she will ensure that the site, including surrounding houses, have all the sanitary facilities as advised. 

“We will temporarily not allow anyone to go for mining up until they have constructed the toilets. We promise that within seven days everything will be in place,” she said.

In his remarks, Peter Manjale, who is Director for K2 Tigwirane Manja Aids Support Organisation (K2-TASO), said his organisation will be distributing chlorine to all the households around the area to ensure they use treated water.

Supported by K2-TASO, the inspection was part of the cholera response plan activities aimed at maintaining the zero-case cholera status in the district.

By Abubakar Kanjoka

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