Drinking water quality assessment in Basic Schools in Peri-Urban areas - a case of Mtendere Township in Lusaka, Zambia.
Tembo, Evans Mwamba
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Mtendere Township (meaning a peaceful township) is one the unplanned settlements situated on the eastern side of Lusaka, Zambia. The township is charecterised with over-crowding, lack of adequate safe water, poor sanitation, poor hygiene practices, poverty, and poor waste management practices. The township has four Government basic schools with a total population of 10,164 pupils, and these schools are also charecterised by the same challenges. At present the studied schools are using borehole water with an assumption that it is safe water and requires no treatment. It is against this background that this study on drinking water quality assessment in four Schools in Mtendere Township was carried out to determine the suitability of the borehole water for use by the pupils and teachers. In general, the results of this study showed that the concentration of nitrates and microbiological parameters of drinking water for New Mtendere, Mtendere and Chitukuko Basic Schools range from 19.6 mg/1 - 29.66 mg/1 and 4 CFU/100ml - 28CFU/100ml respectively. In comparison with the recommended ZABS / WHO guidelines for nitrates (i.e. l0mg/l) and microbiological parameters (0 CFU/l00ml), these contaminants are above the recommended standards and thus making the water in studied schools unsafe for human consumption. Hence need for the school management to treat the water prior to consumption. The study therefore recommends that drinking water quality assessment in schools should be given a priority by Ministry of Health. Additionally, the ministries of Education and Health should work together in implementing an effective health and hygiene education programme in schools in peri-urban areas. The respective school managements should be treating their water in storage tanks and also should introduce sustainable handwashing programmes with soap in schools to alleviate water re-contamination by the pupils at the point of use. Further studies should be undertaken by the Ministry of Health in collaboration with Colleges and Universities in order to investigate the trends of groundwater contamination in schools in Lusaka, and then be scaled-up to other peri-urban areas in the country particularly the Copperbelt.
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