It’s been seven months now since the Malawi Young Pioneers (MYPs) have been camping at the Veteran Memorial tower premises in Lilongwe waiting for their pension and other arrears to be sorted.
On a sad note, 700 MYPs are camping in about 100 ‘one-person grass built huts’ in the bushy areas of the memorial tower. This means that 7 people are sharing a hut meant for one.
With the cholera outbreak, this is one of the hotspots that if not controlled, the country will be hit badly especially when they return to their homes.
Being a memorial tower, the premises do not have sanitation facilities like toilets and bathroom among others especially for such a population.
Mr. Francos Chalemba who is the Tax Force Chairperson told Water and Environmental Sanitation Network (WESNet) that the team is indeed at risk of contracting the bacteria but they just don’t have a choice.
“We know that the country has been hit by Cholera and Lilongwe is one of the affected districts. We also know that staying here can perpetuate the spread, but we need the money,” said Chalemba.
“As for pit latrines, we just use this same bush to poop and take a bath,” continued Chalemba pointing to the bush which is about 2 meters away huts.
The Cholera bacteria are spread through contaminated food and chances of these people contracting the bacteria are very high. This is also because the food is prepared just below one of the bushy areas where they defecate and being a rainy season, water flows directly from the defecating area to the kitchen ground, making it easier for the bacteria to spread.
According to one woman at the camp who opted for anonymity, the place is the only suitable place to be used as the kitchen since it is the only bare, flat and non-concrete ground.
Meanwhile, WESNet’s Programmes officer, Mr. Asayire Kapira has said that it would have been a priority for different organizations and stakeholders in the WASH sector to control the spread of cholera in the capital city. “We are sitting on a time bomb and the status is retrogressive and it will be very costly to manage it at a later stage.”
“We appreciate the help rendered by other stakeholders like United Purpose, the Ministry of Health and Feed the Children among others and appeal to others for the same,” he beckoned.