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

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

1855 Slave Brochure Starkly Details Sale of Black Americans

Document lists entire families that were up for sale in New Orleans, offering graphic insight into the slavery trade More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries 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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs