Water quality assessment in Bangwe Township, Blantyre City, Malawi
This study assessed microbial contamination of water in sources (boreholes and open wells) and selected households in four Malawian villages (situated in Bangwe Township, Blantyre city) by analyzing the presence of faecal coliforms using membrane filtration. Additionally, pH, conductivity and temperature of the water sources were also determined. Conductivity ranged from 150.5 to 1575 μS/cm. About 70% of all water sources were above World Health Organization (WHO) and Malawi Bureau of Standards (MBS) limits for conductivity (indicating salty water in the area). Water temperature ranged from 21.5 to 24.7°C and pH from 5.28 to 6.95 with no significant difference (p > 0.05) for these physical parameters among the sampling points. Water pH was within MBS range while 60% of water sources were below WHO range. Faecal coliform levels exceeding WHO and MBS safe standards were observed in 79% of all samples analysed in this study. Mean household faecal coliform levels were as follows (village (mean)); Nalivata (437 CFU/100 mL), Mpingwe 1 (172 CFU/100 mL), Mpingwe (266 CFU/100 mL) and Salvation Army (15 CFU/100 mL). All mean faecal coliform counts were above WHO (0 CFU/100 mL) and MBS (0 CFU/100 mL) safe values. The results suggest that the quality of water in the villages often fails to meet one or more WHO and MBS recommended safe levels as such, poses a potential risk to the health of those individuals living in such villages. Local and National Governments should therefore target the provision of safe water to such populations. The findings of this study also highlight the need for improved dissemination of good hygienic practices amongst such communities.
Key words: Boreholes, drinking water, faecal coliforms, health, pollution.