Polluted water in Kafr El-Sheikh threatens lives, say lawyers

Heba El-Sherif
4 Min Read

CAIRO: The Hisham Mubarak Law Center (HMLC) and the Association for Health & Environmental Development (AHED) are calling on MPs and members of the local council of Desouk to step up efforts to monitor the quality of drinking water accessible to families in the rural governorate of Kafr El-Sheikh.

In a press conference held at the center’s office Tuesday, both called on the Directorate for Health Affairs in Kafr El-Sheikh to provide medicine people who showed symptoms of illness after drinking polluted water from Abou Aly pumping station.

In addition, they called upon the directorate to pay for hospital stays if needed.

“The problem of water in Kafr El-Sheikh is an enduring one. It is a clear violation of the people’s health and well-being, said Ismail Abou El-Yazid, one of 19 lawyers who filed a complaint to the prosecution office of Desouk on March 28.

Last month, scores of students in the village of Kafr El-Magar in Desouk reported cases of vomiting and diarrhea. They were admitted to the local health unit with high fever.

Inhabitants of Kafr El-Magar have repeatedly complained of drinking water being polluted, saying that it smelt strange and contained noticeable precipitations, which were later identified as high levels of ammonia.

Meanwhile, reports issued by the laboratory of the health administration of Desouk in the last five months all indicate that the water is “is not suitable for human consumption, according to the lawyers.

“It’s not shameful to have a problem. What’s shameful is hiding it, said one lawyer at the press conference.

“Those in charge are not ashamed. This is dangerous, said Elhamy El-Merghani, executive director of AHED, adding that around 76 children have been infected by this water.

The prosecution office decided to form a committee from the Directorate for Health Affairs in Kafr El-Sheikh to take samples from the water pumped by Abou Aly station for tests to identify whether or not it is suitable for drinking.

The problem arose when sewage pipelines were built on a higher altitude than that of pipes built to transport drinking water, causing the sewage disposals to spill onto drinking water leading to a toxic mix.

“This is not a single case. This is an example of the inefficiency of public services in Egypt, said Ahmed Ragheb, the executive director of HMLC, adding that the governor of Kafr El-Sheikh should be held accountable for the persistent water crisis in the delta governorate.

Meanwhile, El-Merghani slammed the general prosecution of Desouk for summoning Shaimaa Ezzat Abdel Salam, a doctor at the local health unit, for interrogation. Abdel Salam reportedly submitted reports detailing the number of patients admitted to the health unit who complain of abdominal pain cause by polluted water.

She was penalized for missing work the day she submitted the reports.

“This is administrative blackmail. Officials are questioning those with a live conscience; this is dangerous, said El-Merghani.

Both HMLC and AHED denounced the questioning of Abdel Salam and pledged to continue to pursue legal measures against polluted drinking water in Kafr El-Sheikh.

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