Water & Sanitation

"Water is life!" A frequently-heard term in Malawi - but so true.

The Challenge - Poor Water Supply

With only one rainy season a year and no storage infrastructure in the rural areas, water shortage is a common problem in this part of the world.

Village borehole pumps are the primary source of safe water. However, there are more community gravity-fed pipelines being run from local mountains, though these tend to lose pressure as the dry season takes hold. So, if borehole pumps break down, many have little alternative to collecting from open water, rivers, and hand-dug holes, potentially polluted, and seriously risking health. These challenges are multiplied in the lives of the frail and infirm, and water shortages and congestion can put women & girls—who traditionally carry water—at risk of violence, trafficking or abuse if they have to collect at night.

So we aim to enable safe and adequate water supply within a shorter distance
from homes, and reduce water- and sanitation-related disease.

The alternative water supply to boreholes and pipelines

Borehole Pumps

Over the years we have repaired many borehole pumps, bringing clean water back to thousands of households. But more recently we’ve introduced a more specific strategy promoting self-support and enabling villagers to take responsibility for their own water future.

At the request of local pump committees, our team goes out to identify users, train in the value of regular maintenance by qualified professionals, prioritises quality parts, and helps to calculate a fair monthly tariff for all, though the ultra-vulnerable—as agreed by the villagers—are exempt. Efficient record keeping, public accountability, and the need for transparency are also included, and once the tariff has started to be saved in the “bank”, we repair their pump, replacing all worn parts to give them a “level playing field” to establish financial reserves for parts in the future.

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But we also help with other water challenges:

Community water pipelines

In partnership with local villagers, we’ve put in major pipelines to provide tapped water across the region. Villagers dug trenches to carry the pipes, builders constructed the cement aprons around the taps, water engineers laid and connected the pipes, and hundreds of people benefited from water flowing at the turn of a tap for the first time ever....

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Wells, and water tanks

We’ve erected structures to carry water tanks—one, at a huge primary school without water supply control, and another servicing a vast area of domestic pipelines. We’ve also dug wells where no other safe water
source exists.

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The Challenge: No public services in rural areas!

Domestic toilets are traditional long-drop latrines, in an outside building. However, the pits fill, the buildings are usually poor quality, prone to collapse in winds and rain, and many struggle to replace them.

In the chaos of cyclonic weather, they’re usually the first casualties, leaving villagers with little alternative to using open fields ....

A toilet, collapsed during a storm

Fibe, elderly & HIV+, in a household of 7, now enjoying her basic unit, delighted to have her privacy and dignity restored.

Over the years we’ve built a variety of facilities— sturdy public toilets in low areas where individual ones had collapsed, a girls’ toilet block in a Primary School where over 900 students and teachers shared just 2 cubicles, and we even attracted a national award for building dozens of basic units after cyclones had destroyed huge swathes of buildings and infrastructure.

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School Toilet Block

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