People from sub-Traditional Authority Namasoko in Phalombe have expressed that they are drinking unsafe water which, is endangering their households from contracting water-borne diseases.
A walk in some villages within TA Namasoko has established that a population from four villages rely on a single borehole, which is also causing residents to draw it from unsafe dams.
In an interview with one of the residents Mary Namahala from Namangale village said women struggle to source water due to unavailability of boreholes to meet the population.
“I have travelled for more than 20 minutes to get at the borehole from my home, and to say I had to wake up at 3 am only to find that the que is already long here.
Look this is almost 11 am, but i have not drawn any water since the time i arrived,” lamented Namahala.
The resident also attributed that they have been meeting the member of parliament in several occasions but nothing has been done on the matter.
“Through the Area Development Committee, we have been meeting our MP, and she is aware of the issue. However, she kept on promising to drill new boreholes but there is no borehole we have received,” said Namahala.
She also added that the trend has caused tension in their families as they are risking divorce.
“Our families are in wrangles, the husbands think that we have concubines which we met upon leaving our beds earlier daily. And we are not in good terms with them,” added Namahala.
Group village head Tupwe from TA Namasoko said that the water challenge is worse in most of the areas pointing for example that four villages of Lipulwe, Bembere, Nkhumpwa and Tupwe rely on a single borehole.
Tupwe said that this is affecting delivery and participation of the residents in development undertakings in the area as much time is wasted in fetching the water.
“We depend on women in most of the activities, so when you move around within my area, you will note that families have not even made box ridges in the farm land till todate and if ever we have any development work they are not showing up.
This is worrisome to note that instead of actively participating in development works, they are busy fetching for the water,” said Tupwe.
He then asked duty bearers to consider them with additional boreholes as the only one available is not equivalent to the 4000 population of four villages it serve
On his part District Water Officer Boston Tambala said that his office is aware of the challenge, but due to decentralization, duty bearers like MPs are responsible persons to drill the boreholes and the office provides technical assistance as well allocation.
But he said that a population of 250 people is supposed to use one borehole.
Speaking with the parliamentarian for Phalombe South Mary Mpanga attributed that the dryness of boreholes drilled has resulted into this water source shortfall.
“I have been drilling boreholes, but some have dried up following the season, and this has lead to the insufficient of the sources,” said Mpanga.
She however, expressed optimism that the current water project underway by FISD in the district will try to reduce the burden.
People from the three districts where piloting the implementation of customary land laws committee are taking place are worrying that the elections are flouting land act that were meant to to be followed
A vivid example is the election that took place in the area of Group Village Headman Maone, Traditional Authority Nazombe in Phalombe district in which a wife and a brother to the Group Village Headman were allowed to participate in the election despite Customary Land Committee regulations clearly restricting them.
one of the participants in the election who also happens to be a relation to the Group Village Headman said the Chief had facilitated for his wife and brother to take part in the election at the watch of two organizations that were conducting the election; Oxfam and the Center for Environmental Policy and Advocacy (CEPA).
“We informed Hilbert Mwarukomo (Programs Director for CEPA) and Andrew Mkandawire (Program Coordinator Oxfam) about the problem but they simply ignored us until the election run,” explained the woman who opted for anonymity for fear of the GVH.
In a interview with , Ward Councillor for the area Rex Malata confirmed that the Chief’s wife and brother took part in the elections, however he was not aware of the regulations that restrict chieftain relations from contesting for the committee membership.
Among other inconsistencies, the people of Maone village alleged that they were told that the election would be conducted by district based officials of the Malawi Electoral Commission to eliminate intrusion by people with vested interests; however they were surprised that the election was conducted by different people including the chief who had his relations participating.
“I don’t see the point of taking part in an election that is failing to even follow its own regulations; and this is happening in the face of our implementing Non-governmental Organizations that we trusted,” said another citizen, Wisdom Duli who did not participate in the election.
He further alleged that due to the disorganized manner in which the election was conducted, some villagers voted more than once, a thing that might have affected the results of the election.
Asked to comment on the matter, Program Coordinator for Oxfam Andrew Mkandawire denied having been approached by the citizens, adding that he was not aware of the Chief’s relations’ participation in the election, while CEPA’s Mwarukomo could not be reached on his cell.
One of the Election’s Independent Observers from Phalombe District Council Grecium Gama wondered whether the alleged intrusion by traditional leaders would not have implications on how the Group Village Heads would influence the committees’ decisions in the future.
With funds from the European Union, a consortium of Oxfam, Landnet and CEPA is implementing a four year land governance project in Phalombe, Kasungu and Rumphi aimed at strengthening land governance systems for smallholder farmers in Malawi.