Buliisa water fails to meet world standards

A woman carries water for domestic use at Butyaba landing site on Lake Albert in Buliisa District.

Buliisa is among the six districts whose water has been found falling far below the recommendations of the World Health Organisation (WHO), experts have revealed.

A study led by Makerere University-based researcher, Prof Christopher Garimoi Orach, indicates that the water samples were collected from 27 sites in Buliisa, Nebbi, Kasese, Kampala, Kayunga and Busia districts.

In the report, Prof Orach says that the samples that were collected from lakes, ponds, rivers, springs and irrigation channels were analysed on a monthly basis for clarity also known as turbidity and it was found to be falling short of pH and oxygen content.

However, the don adds that none of the sites was found to have clear water throughout the study.

Mr Orach discloses that a quarter of the water that was tested from lakes was found to be lacking pH, thus, a good breeding ground for cholera-causing bacteria.

According to experts, a pH level is a number that measures how acidic or alkaline a substance is on a scale of 0 to 14. A pH of less than 7 is an indicator that of acidity while a pH of greater than 7 indicates a base.

The experts continue that dissolved oxygen levels should not be less than 5 milligrams per litre. The researcher says that recommended turbidity for raw water should be less than five nephelometric units.

The year-long study findings were published in a global scientific journal, BMC Public Health.

While the researchers did not test piped water, Mr Orach says that this study has exposed a need for regular checks and good maintenance of pipes since even if the water might be purified at the site, it ends up being contaminated because there is a lot of dumping into Lake Victoria.

As the researchers recommend regular checks on water channels and pipes to keep away water-borne diseases like cholera, the Ministry of Health has embarked on cholera vaccination in prone districts including four of those studied.

This exercise that was scheduled to take place in May but was postponed due to the outbreak of Covid-19 in the country.

The head of diarrhoeal diseases division at the Ministry of Health, Dr Godfrey Bwire, who was among the researchers on this study, says they embarked on vaccination with the belief that if these hotspots are protected, then the spread of cholera elsewhere would be minimised.

But, Prof Orach emphasises that ensuring access to safe water through constant monitoring and purification would be more effective in safeguarding people from catching water-borne diseases.

Researchers say that water quality is measured using three parameters including physical, chemical and microbiological characteristics.

But they recommend that in future studies for water quality, another important parameter of radiological characteristics is added.

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