Centro Terra Viva – Estudos e Advocacia Ambiental
National Water, Food and Hygiene Laboratory at the Ministry of Health
The capital of Mozambique, Maputo, lies on Maputo Bay. City residents rely on considerable amounts of fishery resources, both for consumption and economic reasons. Maputo Bay beaches also serve many residents and tourists as a leisure spot throughout the year. Yet despite its beauty, there is growing evidence that the waters inside the bay are polluted by untreated sewage coming from new developments in the city that are not connected to the existing sewage and drainage facility and water treatment plant. CERA was supported in raising public awareness and promoting government action.
Groundwater contamination from pit latrines and storm water effluent is polluting the bay to the extent that swimming is inadvisable in all but the most distant areas of the bay. The Ministry of Health tests fecal coliform levels regularly, and there is a general ban on the consumption of shellfish from the bay.
Fecal coliforms and disease-causing bacteria live in water. We drink water, bathe and swim in water, and eat fish who live in water. The filter-feeding nature of organisms such as oysters, clams, and mussels can result in the bioaccumulation of bacteria, protozoa, and viruses. The bacteria concentrated in the shellfish by this method of feeding are not harmful to the shellfish, but can be harmful to people that consume the shellfish, especially when eaten raw. Uncooked contaminated shellfish can result in a variety of diseases ranging from a mild food poisoning (Vibrio parahaemolyticus) to the more severe cholera (Vibrio cholerae; no cases reported in the U.S. since 1991), or paralytic shellfish poisoning (due to a toxin produced by algae and associated with red tide). (USEPA)
Founded with Blacksmith Institute’s support, Centro Terra Viva – Estudos e Advocacia Ambiental (CTV) is now addressing this pollution. In order to establish the extent of this sewage pollution and the level of contamination, CTV developed a research and advocacy initiative to look into the situation and to raise public awareness on this issue.
CTV has embarked on the extensive information-gathering process needed to establish a knowledge base of the Maputo Bay ecosystem and rates of degradation. In terms of scientific analysis and water sampling, contacts have been made with the National Water, Food and Hygiene Laboratory at the Ministry of Health for water sampling and laboratory analysis of Maputo Bay waters.
Two separate sampling periods were conducted in 2003 – one in June during the dry season and the other in December during the summer wet season. The waters of Maputo Bay were tested for fecal and total coliform counts, chemical oxygen demand, biochemical oxygen demand, pH, E. coli, Salmonella, Vibrio cholera, and electrical conductivity- all indicators of water quality. Thirteen sites in swimming and drainage areas were monitored and results of testing will be released in the weeks to come.
The objective of this project is to identify existing types and sources of pollutants affecting Maputo Bay, propose solutions to address pollution problems in this area and increase public environmental awareness among Maputo city residents. Addressing this problem involves a two-pronged approach which will a) determine the extent of the pollution and advocate for improvement and b) establish a working sanitation department within the Maputo City Council to draft solutions that can be used for infrastructure funding requests. Currently, no such department exists. Advocacy and public awareness will continue and develop as more concrete information about the level and types of pollution is established.