Water cuts at Durban children's home put staff and children in danger

The Ethelbert Children's Home and Youth Centre in Durban has experienced interruptions to its water supply during the past week, making hygiene difficult during the lockdown. Stock image.
The Ethelbert Children's Home and Youth Centre in Durban has experienced interruptions to its water supply during the past week, making hygiene difficult during the lockdown. Stock image.
Image: 123rf.com/Riccardo Lennart Niels Mayer

A children's home in Malvern, Durban, where 60 children and 30 workers are under lockdown, has been forced to use swimming-pool water and buy bottled water after having no water supply for three days in the past week.

​Vanessa Theophilus, director of the Ethelbert Child and Youth Care Centre, told SowetanLIVE's sister publication TimesLIVE that the home woke to no water on Tuesday.

“We've got 60 children with about 30 staff who are on lockdown. We have had no water sporadically from last Monday night. The water supply comes and goes,” she said. “It is putting us under tremendous pressure. We are dealing with children who are infected with or affected by HIV/Aids.

“For three days within a period of seven days, we have had no water.”

Theophilus said she had raised her concerns about burst pipes in the area with the eThekwini municipality.

“The president has called for us to be safe, practise good hygiene and keep our children safe in the light of coronavirus. How are we supposed to practise proper hygiene when we don't even have a constant supply of water?​"

She said there was a directive from the social development department to keep vulnerable children locked in at the facilities that care for them.

How are we supposed to practice proper hygiene when we don't even have a constant supply of water?​
​Vanessa Theophilus

“We are keeping the children here, but are we not putting them more at risk by not having hygienic conditions?”

Theophilus said they had to resort to using water from the pool and buying bottle water.

“This has been a challenge. We had to buy water for the children. I asked for a water tank, but nobody came,” she said.

“I'm at my wits' end. We have children and staff to take care of.”

Local councillor Chris van den Bergh said he had asked for water tanks for the home and about 200 “other properties” in the area.

“I have been told by the municipality that plumbers will be on site tonight to fix the problem. It's an extremely difficult time for everybody. Water is a basic right,” he said.

Municipal spokesperson Msawakhe Mayisela said the city would have to investigate.


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