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Health stakeholders want Lake Chilwa closed for fishing

Health stakeholders in Zomba district are planning to call for a ban in fishing on Lake Chilwa following a cholera outbreak that has so far claimed three lives.

Deputy District Health Officer for Zomba Mr. William Mlotha disclosed this in an interview when the Malawi Red Cross donated assorted items to be used to prevent the spread of Cholera in Zomba on Saturday.

“We have already told the District Commissioner to seek views of chiefs and other relevant stakeholders. But we believe placing a ban on all fishing activities will help us contain the situation faster,” Mr. Mlotha said.

This development comes after a Cholera outbreak in Machinga, Phalombe and Zomba districts, all of which share Lake Chilwa.

Lake Chilwa is a source of income for hundreds of Malawians in the three districts – and over 5,000 fishermen are estimated to directly depend on the lake for their livelihood.

The Basin Lake also contributes close to MK 6 billion annually to the country’s economy.

The water levels of the lake started to decline a few months ago and this forced many fishermen to relocate to stay in the middle of the lake – using above-the-water-level squatter shelters.

“The fishermen staying on the lake defecate in the water, thereby polluting it,” Mlotha notes, adding this trend could stall progress in the fight against cholera in areas surrounding the lake.

Meanwhile, the Malawi Red Cross Society has responded to the Cholera outbreak by donating Cholera prevention kits to be used in Zomba, Machinga and Phalombe districts.

Water and Sanitation Advisor for the Red Cross Mr. Colex Chapendeka said the organization has donated 3.5 million kwacha worth of cholera prevention kits.

Mr. Chapendeka however fears the fish business at the lake could result in the spread of the disease, if not properly checked.

“The situation is more than worse and something needs to be done as soon as possible to effectively contain the situation,” said Chapendeka.

Over 1,500 people will benefit from the Red Cross Society’s donation.

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