Lives at risk as sewage pipes discharge human waste into river

Human waste flows into river Nabuyonga along MBlae-Kumi road. Photo by Daudi Nana

MBALE-Mbale’s sewer system has continued to dump human waste into Nabuyonga River and other streams, despite years of protests by downstream residents.

The sewage system now leads to spillage of human waste along the road, creating a potential health risk to residents who use the river water.

Local environmentalists say there is also a deliberate discharge of sewerage waste into the same river by Ahamadiya hospital and along Buwalasi view road by Mbale regional referral hospital without anybody raising a finger.
The municipal environment officer, Rhoda Nyaribi, said the deliberate disposal of human waste and blood from the hospitals into the river puts the lives of many residents who use the water for bathing, cooking and drinking downstream at a risk of cholera, dysentery and other water-borne related disease.

“It is now wondered that Namatala slum, [one of Mbale’s biggest slums] that uses the water from Nabuyonga River has become a seat of cholera outbreak in Mbale municipality,” Nyaribi said.

Residents told PML Daily that whenever it rains, drivers to and fro Mbale municipality and the pedestrians along Mbale-Kumi road near Nabuyonga River in Mbale municipality have one thing in common, they hold their mouths and noses when passing near this spot.

Although the municipality has an environment officer who admits breaching environmental regulations when human waste from the main sewerage pipes is directed into the river, the municipality authorities are yet to do anything about it.

Nyaribi adds that Dott services the company the constructed the Mbale-Soroti road made it worse by putting pipes underground to direct the human waste into the river.

Although it is clear that there are about 8,000 people staying in Namatala slum and another 3000 staying along this river who use water from this river as a source of livelihood, Mbale municipality and NWSC are to correct this mess.
Mr James Kutosi, the municipal spokesperson said they have written to National Water and Sewerage Corporation [NWSC] to repair the broken sewerage pipe along Mbale-Kumi road but that they are yet to respond.

“Our fear is that Namatala has been a spot for the outbreak of cholera and as the pipe continues to discharge waste into River Nabuyonga, which flows through Namatala, the efforts by the municipal council to fight cholera from town are being watered down,”  Kutosi said.

He revealed that the sewage system now leads to spillage of human waste along the road, creating a potential health risk along the road and to about 3,000 people who use this river as a source of water.
Health risks

The analysis of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) data found that since 2003, hundreds of municipal sewer authorities have been fined for violations, including spills that make people sick, threaten local drinking water and kill aquatic animals and plants.

Doctor Gideon Wamasebu, the DHO Manafwa and a resident of Mbale municipality says the sewage and storm overflow that pour in River Nabuyonga could cause water borne diseases like Cholera, dysentery, Diarrhea, Hepatitis A, bacterial infections, viral diseases, protozoa diseases and leptospirosis if people continue taking this contaminated water.

“Those who bath increase the risk of contracting illnesses due to bacteria and viruses present in sewerage effluent and gastrointestinal disorders have been linked to sewage pollution, with viruses implicated as the cause.
Dr John Baptist Waniaye, the DHO Mbale said sewage water carries diseases such as Giardiasis, Amoebic dysentery and Cholera.

Municipal council blamed
According to the former Mbale branch manager NWSC, Mr Emmanuel Ekanya said, the sewerage overflow is as a result of poor construction policies from the municipal council, whom he accuses of not following the physical plan of the town.

Mr Ekanya the NWSC Mbale area manager blamed the municipal council for allowing illegal constructions and poor garbage disposal tendencies despite the NWSC’s notification letters to the town clerk against erecting such structures.

Mr Ekanya said the municipal council allows residents to construct on sewerage pipelines, in sanitary corridors and road reserves which are meant for such utilities.

The town clerk Mr Edward Lwanga said the municipal council authorities are already planning to write to various offices responsible to have the place fixed in bid to end the problem.

“This town has an old sewage line that was meant for a small population but now the population has grown, the sewage lines are old and there are people who have directed storm waters into the sewer line, I think we must think about overhauling the entire system to end this,” Mr Lwanga said.




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