Uji i pijshëm ne fshatin Bardhaj
Children are suffering from kidney failure. In the absence of water, rural residents of Bardhaj in Shkodra used to drink water coming from drilled wells. The Mayor stated, “A long time ago, we have sent to the government a project for the construction of a water supply system, but so far have received no answer.
By Senad Nikshiqi
They have been drinking limewater and the health damages they are suffering are indeed not few. There are dozens of children in Bardhaj village of Shkodra Municipality having problems with their kidneys, or other issues due to the water they used to drink, which occasionally had a significant percentage of limestone. Since the 90s, this area has been lacking a water supply network to supply the residents of Bardhaj with potable water. Children are at a higher risk from consumption of this kind of water, because at their age they are not careful as adults can be. This is why they are suffering from various health problems.
But children are not the only ones to suffer health conditions due to the consumption of limewater. The percentage of limestone in water has affected about 600 residents of the village. In the early 90s, not so many people used to live in Bardhaj, as they do today. Many have come to live there from remote areas and they have been living there for 20-25 years now. Even though these people are regular Albanian taxpayers, the state does not provide them with potable water. Under these circumstances, the rural residents have identified simple ways to provide it themselves, by drilling a few meters underground, as the only way they could think of that would supply them with water. In all the houses, inhabitants have dug in their land to create mini-wells. However, it has resulted that the water coming from these wells has a high percentage of limestone, and is contaminated.
Residents describe the situation and talk about the problem that has existed in their village for 25 years now. “We do not have potable water in Bardhaj, and we drink it as it is. No one cares about our problem, even though we have complained so many times about this concern. Nobody seems to do something in this regard. We consume the water coming from underground, because this is the only way we can have water. Even nuns once complained about this problem, and even their words were not heard and nobody has taken measures to fix this”, M.L, a resident of the village said.
“Everyone knows that water in Bardhaj is not potable, due to its high percentage of limestone. Everyone in Bardhaj seems to suffer from kidney disease. We have no idea if someone has examined the water to see if it is drinkable or not. All we can do is go up in the mountain whenever we can, to get pure water, because we know that water here is not drinkable due to the level of limestone it contains”, S.T., another resident of the village said.
Lekë Pjetri, vice director of the 9-year school in Bardhaj seems to be on the same page with the inhabitants of the village. He said that besides the limestone level, there is also another kind of water pollution, due to the waste being disposed in the Kir River. “Bardhaj residents are absolutely right in their requests. They have filed requests related to supply with potable water several times to the commune. After the 90s, there was no water supply network in this area and water has been drinkable in only 3-4 locations, not everywhere. Now though, you cannot drink water even there”, Pjetri added. For years, residents of the village have found as the only solution that of drilling water wells close to their houses. “After the 90s every family has been supplied water from private wells; however, their depth is 10-12 meters, no more. At such depth of only 10-12 meters, there is a mixture of sewage water and potable water. As a result, some of these families have privately requested examination of the water coming from their private wells, to find out that it was not appropriate for drinking. Water was contaminated also due to the waste disposal in River Kir, which is solid waste or other type of waste that have negatively impacted by polluting the water”, Lekë Pjetri said.
School vice director in Bardhaj informs that children have manifested some health problems, due to the water they drink. “Representatives of the Public Health Department have visited the village several times and have shown interest on the problem, but in terms of examinations, they haven’t done anything. We still have no official confirmation whether or not the water is potable. So far, we have been worried about the health of our children, hoping they are not life threatening. Anyway, some prophylactic measures should always be taken in order to prevent epidemics or diseases caused by the problem of water pollution and its composition of limestone”, Pjetri concluded.
Villagers say they have been living in this situation for 25 years now. Seeing that there is no other solution for them, they often go up in the mountain where there are natural water springs to fill containers with drinkable water. But this is not something they can do every day, not only due to the difficulty of climbing the mountain, but also due to the difficulty of transporting the water. Therefore, too often, they are forced to drink water from wells they have drilled in their yards.
Rrethina Municipality, which includes Bardhaj village, is aware of the water problem. The Mayor of Rrethina, Mr. Luan Harusha says that they had sent to the government a project to build a water supply network, which would serve not only Bardhaj, but the entire territory of this municipality, as the only way to resolving this problem. So far, they have received no response, as it would require the implementation of a major investment project. “We are aware of the problem in the village of Bardhaj. We had spent some time developing a project to construct a water supply network, knowing it was a necessity in the area. We have sent the project to the relevant ministries and have tried to involve foreign donors. So far, we have not received any concrete response. This project requires a large investment, which is not an easy thing to achieve. I hope that an opportunity to fund the project is soon identified. As a municipality we are unable to build a water supply network with the funds that we have been allocated”, Luan Harusha added.
Regional Public Health Directorate in Shkodra says it was not possible for them to examine the quality of water, as there is no water supply network in village Bardhaj, which has therefore prevented them from undertaking an examination. “We have not analyzed the quality of water in Bardhaj village. We are interested in a document that was sent to us by the 9-year school in Bardhaj, but it was focused only on the wastewater. Thus, after verifying the situation, we sent our inspectors in the field, as it is the rule. This Department has made all the verifications and at the end has demanded for immediate measures to be taken with regard to the wastewater. Regarding potable water, as there is no supply network of such water, as an institution we are not able to give a correct answer”, chief of hygiene department, Burim Gjyli, said.
If institutions do not intervene and take appropriate measures, thus enabling the construction of a water supply network or prohibiting residents to consume well water, then the consequences on the children or adults in the village of Bardhaj can be serious. Besides the great social problems in this village, residents have to cope also with this problem that they do not even know how to solve. If no measures will be taken by the relevant institutions, then who knows for how long the 600 residents of Bardhaj will continue to consume water that is contaminated and full of limestone that can cause the outbreak of infectious diseases.
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