Malawi moves from borehole to public taps

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The Lakeside village of Kafuzira ,in the Nkhotakota of Malawi’s central region, doesn’t have running taps. In the dry season, the women and girls have to travel five kilometers to Lake Malawi to fetch water for their daily needs.

However, an African Development Bank-funded pipe-borne, gravity-fed water supply scheme is making an effort to supply water for the village. The Rural Water and Sanitation Project is currently roaring by on the main road, hauling large water pipes with workers digging trenches, and putting the final touches to public taps for Kafuzira villagers.

The objective of the Sustainable Rural Water Infrastructure for Improved Health and Livelihood (SRWSIHL) project is to spur socio-economic growth in Malawi by improving the health and livelihoods of marginalized rural populations through the provision of a sustainable water supply and improved sanitation.

The Bank is co-funding the project through an African Development Fund loan and a Nigerian Trust Fund loan, at $27 million. This is in addition to a $4.1-million grant from the Bank-hosted Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Initiative Trust Fund, and $3.5 million from the Government of Malawi.

Officer-in-Charge of the African Development Bank’s Malawi country office in Lilongwe, Eyerusalem Fasika adding that other donors, such as the World Bank, primarily support the urban and town water supply and water resources sub-sectors

According to Lazarus Phiri, the Bank’s senior water and sanitation engineer, the project, when completed at the end of 2019, will provide improved water supply to around 516,000 people in the rural areas. Another 575,000 people will gain access to improved sanitation, helping the Government of Malawi to meet its national development objectives as well as the Sustainable Development Goal 6 on clean water and sanitation.

Kafuzira desperately needs the water project and the villagers are doing all in their power to make it happen. They have already elected the members of the local Water Users’ Association to run the water point when it starts operating.

The association’s chairman, James Honda, says the village remains plagued by diarrhea, dysentery and other waterborne diseases. Some children have drowned in the lake while fetching water, and crocodiles have killed some women at water holes during the dry season.

However, the villagers are continuing to look for solutions to this water problem. Water operations and maintenance teams of men and women are taking training courses .The area’s senior chief, Falesi Phiri, has donated some of her land for the construction of the association’s office, and the collection of the fees that will pay for the management of the water point is ongoing.

“The Dwambazi Water Treatment Facility will supply water to 350,000 residents in the Nkhotakota District,” says Falesi Phiri. According to Laraus Phiri “This will be the first water project to be implemented by Government staff and the knowledge generated will be valuable when implementing future water projects,” said Lazarus Phiri. He adding that the preparations in the village are a direct result of the knowledge and skills management training provided by the project to all rural communities, who will be managing their own water infrastructure.

This means that the days of spending hours to fetch and haul 20-litre plastic cans of water balanced on their heads are close to extinction and the villagers won’t have to compete with domestic and wild animals for water from the same source.

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