Malawi Project Overview
EWB-UD aims to provide a portion of the Sakata region with clean and easily accessible water through a long-term partnership with several villages. Water-borne illness is extremely prevalent in the communities; data from Villages in Partnership shows that nearly half of the population of Mphero and the surrounding villages of Chilimani, Liti, Nkagula, and Kanyenda are under the age of fifteen, leaving more than one-third of the young villagers orphaned and often without direct adult support. This leads to impecunious living conditions and an inability to maintain or improve the physical infrastructure required for community growth and development. The most acute need of the villagers is for an improved water supply infrastructure–all of the villages we have met with consider potable water a primary and absolutely essential need. With water sources distant, it takes young girls hours to fetch water every day, which limits time to do tasks such as attending school or spending time with family. Unfortunately, when closer water sources, such as polluted rivers, are sought out, the incidence of illness increases dramatically. Children are forced to make impossible decisions–leave school, or avoid possibly fatal water-borne illnesses.
To assess the needs of the community and determine the best way to help, EWB-UD conducted two assessment trips to the region, which gathered invaluable information that allowed us to begin implementing projects in the area. We decided our first partner community would be Mphero, a small village which had no functioning wells at the time. With the help of practicing engineers and hydrogeologists as appropriate, we worked with the community to design sustainable solutions to their water problems. During the August 2016 implementation trip our plan was put into action. The Malawi Project Team oversaw the drilling and installation of two borehole wells capped with hand pumps within the village limits of Mphero, no longer requiring the community to walk extremely far distances and have to pay the neighboring village for water access. In conjunction with the construction of wells, the Malawi team worked with Mphero to implement an education program to help the community members villagers with the changes that project implementation has brought about.
The implementation in Mphero is just the beginning of our partnership with the Sakata region of Malawi. Immediately after assessing the success of our designs in Mphero, we began to assess the next steps we should take to assist the communities in the region. After reaching out to our other planned partners, we decided to next look at the needs of Chilimani, a larger community which also had seriously inadequate water access, with just a couple semi-productive wells to serve over a thousand village members. Here, too, we worked with locally active NGOs, the community members and leadership, and advisors on hydrogeology, engineering, and international partnerships to assess the community’s needs and the best solutions available to meet them. In the summer of 2018, we set out to implement the project: as in Mphero, we decided to drill two borehole wells and finish them with handpumps. This job turned out to be tougher than the last, and there were a couple boreholes that were drilled only to find no water – but with the quick thinking of the EWB team, the community, and our contractors, new drilling sites were identified, and Chilimani was equipped with two extremely productive wells.
Liti, Nkagula, and Beyond
As we arrange with Chilimani to monitor the success of the borehole wells in meeting the community’s needs, the Malawi team has once again reached out to some if its other potential partners, Liti and Nkagula. These communities have also identified water access as a grave need, and the EWB-UD team is looking forward to applying our experience with water projects in the region to creating successful partnerships with these communities.