IT is sad to learn that water tanks installed in the choler-affected townships in Lusaka are being vandalised.
The development, which has been confirmed by the police, is certainly a drawback to the efforts by the Government and other stakeholders to fight the epidemic.
Since the first case of cholera was reported in Lusaka in October last year, the Ministry of Health has recorded more than 3,000 cases countrywide and over 70 fatalities.
To date, more cases are being reported everyday, especially from Lusaka townships, although the figures have been reducing.
With the help of the Lusaka City Council, the corporate world and individuals, the Government, through the Ministry of Health, came up with short-term measures to try and save people’s lives.
These included burying shallow wells and installation of water tanks in the affected townships from which the residents could, for free, draw clean and safe water to drink and for household purposes.
The residents were expected to be responsible enough and never tamper with the water tanks, knowing fully well that these were one way of protecting themselves from contracting cholera at individual and family levels.
Sadly, it appears some people did not see the logic behind this move because, as police spokesperson Esther Katongo says, police have received reports that they have started vandalising water tanks which have been installed in communities by the Government to supply clean water following an outbreak of cholera in Lusaka.
What these people are not aware of, or what they are simple ignoring, are the basic cholera facts which must be followed if cholera can be prevented and, in the process, protect themselves and their families.
These include the fact that these tanks contain safe water which people can use to drink, brush their teeth, wash, prepare food and, for those who are business-oriented, make ice, for instance, for sale.
The fact that this water is being supplied freely to the residents has saved many people who cannot afford bottled or mineral water which is sold in the shops.
In addition, water taken to the residents’ doorsteps has saved them the trouble of boiling or treating it with a chlorine product or household bleach, especially that the prices of the latter two products have skyrocketed since the cholera outbreak.
In any case, the Government did not want to take chances by echoing the oft-repeated chorus of urging people to boil water, or to treat their water with chlorine, or use one of the locally available treatment products and follow the instructions.
It is not everyone one who is well-versed with such instructions, nearly all of which are in the English language which some people do not understand.
Last, though not least, health workers usually warn that it is not always that piped water sources are safe and should, therefore, also be boiled or treated with chlorine.
It is for these reasons that the Government has ensured that the local authority carefully treats water supplied to the residents in water tanks so that it can be safe for use.
So vandalising these facilities is clearly tantamount to fighting the anti-cholera efforts which are currently going on, and must be checked.