Written by CorpsAfrica/Malawi Volunteer Mr. Emas Potolani
Today the 22nd of March is World Water Day. The day was proposed and established by the United Nations during one of its Conferences on Environment and Development in 1992. By considering the water threats, problems, and poverty, the UN proposed to celebrate World Water Day on 22 March each year, and this is according to Agenda 21 of the UN. This year, the celebrations took place in Mangochi under the theme “Why Waste Water.” I have chosen to celebrate this important day by sharing with you my dear readers about my Clean Water Provision and Sanitation Project which I did in my former host community in Neno. The post today is more descriptive with a few pictures at the end; I hope you enjoy reading it!
“Clean water and access to food are some of the simplest things that we can take for granted each and every day. In places like Africa, these can be some of the hardest resources to attain if you live in a rural area.”
Chitete Village in Neno has more than 130 households. Almost half of this population experience difficulties to access clean water from clean sources. There are 65 households who reside along or near the Shire River which passes by the other side of this community. For almost the entire part of their lives, the dwellers of this side of the community never had a clean source of water and as such they entirely depended on the River as their main and only source of water.
There are so many untold stories of how the people in this part of the community continuously endangered their lives by fetching water from the river which is infested with crocodiles. “For a very long time we have lost some lives while some people especially women and children have been left wounded due to the crocodile attacks as they tried to fetch water from the river,” shared Village Headman Patisoni. Apart from the crocodile attacks, the people are also exposed to unending water-borne diseases since the people don’t even bother to treat the water before consumption and at times they find the chemicals too expensive at the market to use in treating their water.
It is not as if the people who drink water from unprotected sources and end up endangering their lives by getting water from a crocodile infested river are not aware of the disastrous water borne diseases that include Cholera, Typhoid, Dysentery among many others; they continue to put their lives at risk out of desperation. How many times can they boil the water? where can they find the money to buy chlorine or “water guard” to add and treat the water? One woman from the project site and a direct beneficiary, told me that she would rather buy food to feed her four children than spend her hard-earned money to buy water treating chemicals. Like I said, sadly, these are acts of desperation that have characterized the life for the people in this community and many others facing a similar dilemma.
These were the stories I started to hear when I joined the Chitete Community as a Volunteer in February 2016. As I continued to collaborate with the local leadership for my host community and gather community needs, it was very clear that one of the issue that had to be addressed before the finish of my year-long service was the water problem in the community. After facilitating a number of community development meetings with the help of the community leadership, the Village Development Committee (VDC) and the people in the community, we resolved to prioritize 2 needs that we would design projects out of them. We resolved to prioritize a clean water provision and sanitation project and if time allowed us, embark on a School block construction project to add one more block at Chitete Primary school.
This was the beginning of a wonderful project that ended up providing clean water to more than 65 households that are now benefiting directly from a borehole that was drilled in Chitete village. The project mainly aimed at providing safe and clean water to the residents of the community to enhance their well being and sanitation. As part of the project, I collaborated with the VDC as well as the Community’s leadership to train the households in sanitation health practices and behaviors, teaching them to make hand washing facilities from locally available materials (the Tippy Tap) and also taking care of the water facility and handling all the maintenance issues of the Borehole. The training followed after the Civil Works were done and completed on the borehole by Easy Borehole Drillers, the company that was hired to drill the borehole.
I would like to thank and appreciate the Australian Consulate through the Direct Aid Program (DAP) in Zimbabwe for their generous financial support towards this project. Without this funding this project wouldn’t have happened. To ensure sustainability for this initiative, I collaborated with Eazy Boreholes to conduct maintenance and repairs training for the Borehole Management Committee which was established to take of any issues concerning the borehole itself. They were equipped in maintenance of the borehole in cases of breakages among other technical issues. Interestingly enough, the borehole management committee already started collecting a maintenance and repairs fee of MK 200 (about 40 cents) every month per household to help in footing any bills related maintenance on the borehole.