Raphael Subili, 14, recently sat his Junior Certificate of Education examination at South Lunzu Community Day Secondary School in Blantyre. However, he fears poor results.
Subili could not study at home due to loud music from pubs in his residential area of Nanthoka in Machinjiri, Blantyre.
He said: “Studying requires a quiet environment. As students, we study more at night, but in my case this was not possible because of too much noise in our area.”
A report by the National Geographic Society states that children who live near noisy airports and streets may suffer from stress and impairments in memory, attention level and reading skill.
Reads the report in part: “This may affect class performance of the children and can also lead to inefficiencies at the workplace.”
Raphael’s father Benedicto Subili said he lodged a complaint with Blantyre City Council (BCC) about the noise and poor sanitation the pubs bring in his area, but nothing has so far been done.
He said: “Much as the noise disturbs our children’s education, it is also a nuisance to us all. Our councils should do something about it.”
In separate interviews, BCC, Lilongwe City Council (LCC) and Mzuzu City Council (MCC) acknowledged that some residents have complained about noise pollution.
In a written response, BCC public relations officer Debora Luka said they have been receiving complaints about noise pollution from residents.
She said: “The council is requesting residents to officially complain about noise pollution by writing to the chief executive officer.
“The council was [once] dragged to court for banning loud music in residential areas and one of the issues that came out prominently in court was that the decision was not backed by complaints from residents.
“It is for this reason that we request residents to officially complain to the council [to ensure] there is evidence.”
On poor sanitation, Luka said the council encourages people to properly dispose of their wastes.
MCC spokesperson McDonald Gondwe said they are also receiving complaints about noise from residents.
He said: “The council is dealing with these complaints on a case by case basis. On sanitation, MCC only issues a licence when it is convinced that the sanitation assessment reveals a positive outcome.
“MCC has the power to revoke a licence when sanitation is poor and the owner fails to rectify it.”
Gondwe said the council is also engaging communities to take responsibility through Keep Mzuzu City Clean Campaign, Beautiful and Ward Waste committees.
LCC spokesperson Tamara Chafunya also confirmed receiving complaints about noise in residential areas.
She said: “Noise pollution is a nuisance and it is treated as provided for in the Public Health Act, Chapter 34.01 of the Laws of Malawi, Section 64.”
To deal with the problem, Chafunya said the council conducts awareness campaigns, civic education meetings and ensure that businesses operate in trading centres and not in residential areas.
She urged residents to report people who produce noise in residential areas to authorities.
In the past, BCC and LCC have closed business premises after some residents raised concern about noise.
The National Geographic Society report, accessed on nationalgeographic.org states that although noise pollution is not accorded considerable attention compared to water and air pollution, evidence shows that excessive noise is hazardous to humans and wildlife.
Reads the report in part: “Excessive noise is harmful to both physical and psychological health of humans. Noise during the night disturbs sleep. This is common in residential areas which are close to factories or places of entertainment.
“Sleep disturbance causes secondary effects which include increased fatigue and depressed mood.”
The report says impaired task performance is another effect of noise pollution and it is evident in children who attend schools in noisy environment or adults who are exposed to noise in the workplace.