BWB suspends deductions of kiosks’ water tariff arrears as intervention in fight against cholera outbreak in Blantyre

Water kiosk managed by Water Users Association 

* With effect from Monday, September 12 on the prepaid metering system across all outlets spread out in low-income communities

* Of the 19 affected districts, Nkhata Bay has the highest at 617 reported cases with 17 deaths

* Followed by Blantyre (546 with 22 deaths) with cumulative cases at 2,577 including 86 deaths since the onset of the outbreak

By Duncan Mlanjira

As Blantyre City keeps registering rising cases of cholera, Blantyre Water Board (BWB) says it is ensuring that all water kiosks in the city are operational and provide sustainable supply services to various ‘high risk’ low-income communities.


In its intervention in the fight against the outbreak of highly contagious disease, BWB announces that — with effect from Monday, September 12, is has “suspended all deductions for settlement of arrears by water kiosks on the prepaid metering system” across all outlets spread out in the low-income communities.

“BWB learnt that some water kiosks were not operational because their Water Users Associations were failing to purchase water tokens due to repayment of arrears upon a purchase,” said a statement from BWB management.

“The war against cholera can, therefore, be won if people are provided with clean water for personal and food hygiene use. The Board is aware that the cholera epidemic develops in areas with unsafe drinking water and inadequate sanitation, hence the Board effecting this intervention.”

BWB adds that it will not be deducting on water units purchased by the Water Users Associations until December 2022 when the matter will be reviewed.

The city water supplier assured the public of its commitment to supply clean and safe water to all residents of the City and its sorrounding areas.

In the Ministry of Health’s situation report on the cholera outbreak, it indicates that a total of 19 districts have reported cases of the deadly disease since the confirmation of the first case in Machinga in March this year.

A total of 74 new cases were reported as of Monday, that included one related death registered in Nkhata Bay while the Ministry assuring that public that the outbreak has been controlled in six districts — but in the past 14 days, the disease has been reported in 13 districts of Blantyre, Nsanje, Chikwawa, Nkhata Bay, Nkhotakota, Rumphi, Mzimba North, Machinga, Karonga, Zomba, Balaka, Kasungu, Mwanza and Mzimba South.

As of Monday, Blantyre was not amongst the districts that reported the 74 cases, but they were from Nkhata Bay (38); Mzimba North (22); Karonga (10); Chikwawa (2) and one each in Nkhotakota and Mwanza.

The cumulative confirmed cases so far since the onset of the outbreak is 2,577 including 86 deaths at a case fatality rate of 3.3%.

Of the 19 affected districts, Nkhata Bay has the highest at 617 reported cases with 17 deaths; followed by Blantyre (546 with 22 deaths); Nsanje (291 with 14 deaths); Nkhotakota (265 with 9 deaths); Rumphi (214 with 5 deaths); Mzimba North (200 with 1 death); Chikwawa 163 with 4 deaths); Neno 127 with 2 deaths and Karonga 86 with 4 deaths).

The Ministry said most of the deaths occurred while at their homes or at health facilities after presenting at the centres late for treatment.

“The major factors associated with the cholera outbreak in the communities are poor food hygiene, lack of safe water and low latrines coverage”, including open defecation.


Measures so far done by the Ministry include:

* Setting up of treatment centres in all affected areas so that patients do not travel long distances for treatment. Cholera treatment near the affected areas and supply of medicines;

* Pot to pot chlorination of water in the communities where there is no safe water. The Ministry of Water is also in the process of putting safe water sources in the communities;

* Administration of oral cholera vaccinations (OCV);

* Contact tracing of cholera cases;

* Engagements with local leaders to facilitate latrine and use, including general sanitation and hygiene issues; and

* Community sensitization on prevention and control of cholera being done in all districts of the country.

In the situation report, Health Minister Khumbize Kandodo Chaponda reminds the general public that cholera is a preventable and treatable disease and emphasized that drinking safe water is paramount as well as proper use of latrines; washing hands with soap after visiting the toilet and before handling food; using safe & treated water all the time and practising food hygiene.

“The Ministry of Health is working together with Ministry of Water to make sure all people have safe water all the time,” she assured, while indicating that she is also working with CHAM facilities in providing cholera treatment and prevention services free of charge.

She also implored on the public that they should report to the hospital early “if they develop diarrhea or if they are suffering from any other disease.