News / Africa

In Malawi, an NGO Saves Rural Dwellers from Waterborne Illnesses

In Malawi, woman in the central district of Dedza gathers water (VOA/L. Masina)
In Malawi, woman in the central district of Dedza gathers water (VOA/L. Masina)
Lameck Masina
A few years ago, residents of Malawi's southern district of Chikhwawa were often stricken with diarrhea often caused by cholera, an illness spread by unclean drinking water from unprotected sources like wells and rivers. Today, the situation is under control, thanks to an international NGO that's drilling boreholes in the area for fresh drinking water and building latrines for family use.
 
The Water and Sanitation Project was prompted by a study showing that Chikhwawa - with nearly half a million people -- has relatively few public toilets or other facilities supporting public hygiene. 

Kate Harawa, the country director of Water for the People, the non-governmental organization sponsoring the effort, says " We looked at the statistics and found out that Chikhwawa was one of the least safety [districts] in terms of water supply and sanitation. At that time [2008] it was around 45 percent access to safe water and sanitation was very, very low. And ... there are a high percent of people who openly defecate.”  

Harawa says to avert the situation, the organization is drilling boreholes starting with Makhuwira, Kasisi and Chapanganga --- areas under traditional authority where there's a high risk of contracting waterborne diseases.

“We have [built] more than 200 water points," she says, "and this year we are doing [additional] 41 and next year we [will build] 100.”

The project is also helping to build latrines in individual homes.

Health experts say the initiative has helped reduce incidences of diarrhea among the 8,000 households in the district.

They say before the introduction of the project in 2008,  0.2 percent of the district's population were infected, which is very high by world standards.  Today, it's been reduced to 0.007 percent.

Beatrice Munyowa, one of health Instructors in the district, explains how that level was reached.

“To maintain the hygiene standards," she says, "we provide chlorine to the communities for treating the water and we also advise them to always cover the water and always keep clean the borehole surroundings.”

Besides advice from health experts, villagers themselves have formed committees responsible for the sanitation and the maintenance of the boreholes.

Emily Batumeyo, the secretary of the water point committee at Kasokeza village, says apart from the reduced incidents of water borne diseases, the project has made it easier to access clean water.

“Before the initiative," she says, "we used to travel long distances to fetch clean water. For example we would wake up early in the morning to battle for clean water at a water point which was as far as three kilometers away. Sometimes we would spend a night [there].”

The organization is implementing the project with support from The Global Sanitation Fund, a program run by the UN's Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council and by the international NGOs Charity Water and Climate Justice Fund. Harawa says funds permitting; the NGO is planning to extend the initiative to the rest of the district to reach its goal of ensuring that everyone has access to safe water by 2018.

Water for the People has similar projects in other parts of Malawi -- in the peri-urban areas of Blantyre, and in the northern district of Rumphi - and in Rwanda and Uganda.

Listen to report on sanitation project in Malawi
Listen to report on sanitation project in Malawii
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs countermeasure at UN More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Mia
May 27, 2013 3:21 PM
I'd like to know what plans are in place to monitor and maintain the boreholes. Yes it's great to build boreholes, but its shortsighted to not also consider the long-term needs of maintaining the equipment. Often, donors build boreholes that are broken and not able to be used a few years (or even months) later. Engineers without Borders produces a Failure Report (http://legacy.ewb.ca/mainsite/pages/whoweare/accountable/FailureReport2012.pdf) which was first published due to the shortcomings they identified in not maintaining the projects they initiated in Africa.

In addition, there needs to be some component of community ownership in order to ensure that the project (in this case a borehole) will continue beyond the donor being on the ground. This article vaguely mentions community involvement and only anecdotally. The community needs to be involved in planning from day one and be empowered to maintain the borehole for years to come.

by: Arnold P. Wendroff, PhD from: Brooklyn, New York, USA
May 26, 2013 8:00 PM
It is simply not possible to drill sufficient wells to preclude the need for women to headload their water considerable distances from well to home. This is only one of their domestic and agricultural transport chores, virtually all of which are of necessity performed via headloading. The development community had failed to transfer appropriate and affordable lightweight handcart transport technology to Malawi and to the rest of Africa.
Ox-carts and donkey-carts are far too expensive for Malawi's subsistence farming sector, and no other wheeled transport having a realistic uptake potential has been suggested other than the handcart as described at www.MalawiHandcartProject.org.
The Malawi Government has tested these handcarts and found them a great improvement over headloading, as have demonstrations at Mwandama and Gumulira Millennium Villages. It is high time to make the essential handcart wheels commercially available in Malawi, so that lightweight, rugged and affordable handcarts can be built locally and purchased by subsistence farm families to ease their burdens, enhancing their agricultural productivity, and increasing their domestic water supply, currently constrained to ~20 liters at a time by the need to headload it from well to home.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prisoni
X
Heather Murdock
July 01, 2015 8:59 PM
As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs