Malawi NGO Steps Up Efforts in Bailing Out Young Girls From Water Problems

By Alfred Mthandizi
Tina Phiri, not real name woke up early in the morning. She starts her day with house shore cleaning and sweeping of surrounding gardens. Before going to school, Tina, who comes from the Area of Traditional Authority Mkukula in Dowa, travels 6 Kilometers to a nearby borehole in order to access water. While at the borehole Tina has to queue for a snake related line since the borehole is too small to contain the large number of women who travels long distance to access water which is life. After drawing water, Tina who is aged 16 has to hurry to prepare for her classes at Mkukula Primary School. She says her classes are disturbed with the travelling of such long distances as well.

Tina is not alone. She represents millions of people facing such challenges. We sought the views of Traditional Mkukula to give us the general picture of water problem in his area. “We are facing a lot of challenges in as far as water is concerned. We do not have adequate boreholes due to high population that we have in this area,” said Mkukula.

The chief commended the NGO known as Rhema for coming close with him in dealing with the problem. “We commend Rhema Institute for Development for its effort in providing clean water here.” Innocent Semu is the Executive Director of the institution called Rhema. Semu confirmed to our reporters that it is indeed true that his organization has spent huge amount of money in order to ensure that women and young girls are able to access the commodity. He said water is life hence the need to help the community with drilling of boreholes and maintaining.

Recently Villagers from the area of Group Village Headman Kapulula in the area of Traditional Authority Mkukula in Dowa were all smiling because they were rescued from drinking sewage contaminated water from the Lumbadzi river which is heavily polluted with sewer coming from broken pipes.

Senior Group Village Headman Kapulula could not hide his joy when asked his reaction soon after handing over the borehole after a five men and women delegation from Hope of the Child led by the organization’s Chief Executive Officer Tom Herrings had arrived in the country to appreciate the good work the organization is doing.

Herrings said Hope of the Child is committed to ensure that women and children are able to access clean and portable water within reach and walkable distances. Herrings commended Rhema a local NGO for successfully implementing the borehole drilling projects in the area. According to the CEO the project is to ensure that children, especially young girls, are safe from water borne diseases.

What Rhema is doing is in line with SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOAL 6 which urges countries to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all. According to the United Nations progress report on SDG number 6, it is said that too many people still lack access to safely managed water supplies and sanitation facilities.

Water scarcity, flooding and lack of proper wastewater management hinder social and economic development. According to the United Nations report, increasing water efficiency and improving water management are critical to balancing the competing and growing water demands from various sectors and users.

According to the report, in 2015, 29 per cent of the global population lacked safely managed drinking water supplies, and 61 per cent were without safely managed sanitation services. “In 22 countries, mostly in the Northern Africa and Western Asia region and in the Central and Southern Asia region, the water stress level is above 70 per cent, indicating the strong probability of future water scarcity.

In 2017–2018, 157 countries reported average implementation of integrated water resources management of 48 per cent. Based on data from 62 out of 153 countries sharing transboundary waters, the average percentage of national transboundary basins covered by an operational arrangement was only 59 per cent in 2017.” Reads the report in part. Situation water analysis by Pump Aid indicates that roughly 2.4 million people living in rural Malawi are without access to a safe water source, but the actual number may be twice as high – largely due to increasingly non-functional water points and a rapidly growing population.

The population of Malawi currently stands at 17.2 million and continues to rise, with 12.7% of the population lacking access to improved water sources, 69% without treated, sanitary drinking water and nearly half (47.7%) of rural populations having to travel 30 minutes or more to obtain their drinking water. “The fact that nearly 60% of Malawians are subsistence farmers, and a further 20% are small-scale farmers increases their vulnerability to the lack of access to safe water. These challenges make our efforts to bring sustainable water and sanitation solutions to vulnerable rural communities even more urgent.”

Pump Aid is working across the underfunded districts of Kasungu and Mchinji, building on its strong ties to local authorities and the environmental suitability for elephant pump technology. According to the Malawi Irrigation and Water Draft Sector Performance Report 2010, Lilongwe rural (69%), Kasungu (64%) and Mchinji (67%) Districts have the lowest access to safe water in Malawi, and receive the least investments in water and sanitation.

According to the latest UNICEF report, water-borne diarrheal diseases are the second biggest killer of children under 5 years in Malawi – making the need for Pump Aid’s work vital for millions of people.

With these findings donors and other NGOs are encouraged to visit Malawi and help the country to access water because water is life.

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