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

Video Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory 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.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid