Tanzania: Drinking Water Must Be Tested

Originally posted on July 21, 2016



Tanzanians have been urged to establish the culture of carrying out frequent water tests to ensure it is safe from all types of contaminants. Even piped water from public systems can pick up impurities during distribution.

So, even piped water is not safe enough. A resident Technician at Ngurdoto Defluoridation Research Station, Mr Godfrey Mkongo, said recently that testing will help reduce the possibilities of contracting waterborne diseases some of which are surefooted killers.

Technician Mkongo is right. It is imperative to note that some of the waterborne diseases are fast killers. These include cholera, dysentery and typhoid fever. But the list also includes other nasty and almost equally dangerous diseases such as salmonella, diarrhoea and E. Coli.

Hepatitis A is also in this sinister list. It should be expressly understood that these diseases, in most cases, erupt in heavily congested, unsanitary squatter areas in urban centres or in rural villages where water is drawn from ponds.

The ailments are caused by pathogenic microorganisms that most commonly are transmitted in contaminated fresh water. Infection commonly results during bathing, washing, drinking or consumption of unclean, infected food.

However, as mentioned before, even piped water is not safe enough. Cholera is, arguably, the most dangerous pandemic among the waterborne diseases. The pandemic is a fast killer that ravages whole communities if left unchecked.

It is a frightening disease. Cholera is known to thrive mostly in cities, municipalities and towns where unsanitary conditions prevail in congested places occupied by squatters — mainly the poor who live in filthy conditions with no clean piped water.

But the disease can move on to other areas. In squatter areas swarms of houseflies roam at will spreading a variety of fearsome diseases including cholera, of course. So, it is these unsanitary conditions that are often the source of numerous dreaded fast killers such as cholera, dysentery and typhoid.

These diseases, invariably, erupt where communities do not have good pit latrines, toilets or lavatories. Everyone should be aware that cholera is an acute diarrheal disease caused by an infection in the intestines that can kill even a healthy adult in a matter of hours.

Symptoms, including severe watery diarrhea, can surface in as little as two hours or up to five days after infection, and can then trigger extreme dehydration and kidney failure.

Cholera is spread through contaminated fecal matter, which can be consumed through tainted food and water sources or because of poor sanitation and hygiene, like unwashed hands. It is also a shame that not everyone has access to clean water or a good pit latrine.

Authorities should be aware that without clean, well tested water, sanitation and hygiene, sustainable development is impossible. It is high time the state sat up and took notice.

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