BCC refills wells after diarrhoea outbreak

Bulawayo City Council (BCC)

THE Bulawayo City Council (BCC) is refilling all water wells dug by residents to augment supplies delivered by the local authority following the death of six residents from a diarrhoea outbreak in Luveve.


Council chamber secretary Sikhangele Zhou on Wednesday said the local authority suspected that contaminated water collected by residents from unsafe sources had led to the diarrhoea outbreak in the high-density suburbs.

Council, which is under fire for reportedly supplying dirty water to Old Luveve, Cowdray Park and Magwegwe, is on a six-day water-rationing regime necessitated by dwindling sources.

“Diarrhoea is mainly concentrated in Luveve but it is not the only place though. When we saw that the epicentre of the outbreak was Luveve, we have done a few things from a two-pronged approach,” Zhou said.

“The first approach was to eliminate or minimise contamination of water bodies that could cause diarrhoea and patient management as the people were already sick from diarrhoea.”

Zhou said residents had dug wells along the main sewer pipe in Luveve to water vegetables.

“We think it is good for the residents’ safety to close those wells. We are not saying they are the ones causing diarrhoea but there is also a possibility that they are the source of infection.

We have taken samples from those holes to test if we can find samples that match what we found in our patients that are not feeling well,” the chamber secretary.

Zhou said council was trying to manage the situation from the supply point by taking weekly samples from the charge line to check on quality of pumped water.

“On Monday, we collected 20 water samples which were sent to stakeholder’s laboratories for testing and compared the results with our own labs. Patients who are sick from diarrhoea are exempted from paying clinic and ambulance fees at BCC clinics because diarrhoea is an outbreak,” the official said. “We also started a door-to-door campaign looking for patients. A total of 223 were attended to on Monday, 218 patients on Tuesday and 14 patients were seen from their homes as they were unable to walk to the clinic.”

Zhou said 15 critical patients were referred to Mpilo Central Hospital.

“We are asking for co-operation from the residents as it will be painful refilling your hand-dug water wells, but it is for their greater good. Avoid eating vegetables whose source you do not know and also do not eat them raw.”

Zhou said the city was not pumping water from the contaminated Khami Dam since the proposal was still under consideration.