Portland, Ore. – Vibrant Village has committed $100,000 over two years to support 20 villages in the Mchinji District of Central Malawi. In recent years, the district has experienced shorter rainy seasons and suffered extreme climate events, adding to the challenges in the area. About half of the communities in Mchinji District lack safe water and improved sanitation.
Vibrant Village is partnering with U.K.-based Pump Aid, with over 15 years of experience working in the region to deliver safe, easy-to-use and protected water points. Since January 2013, Pump Aid’s local teams have constructed 360 pumps across this district. Pump Aid’s technology is a low-cost, easily maintained pump, well suited to these rural communities.
During the dry season, when the communities’ regular water sources dry up, women and girls walk three to four miles to bring water and firewood to their families, sometimes twice a day. One community’s water source was described as ‘Wakulu yayi,’ meaning ‘old women cannot get there.’ Many girls abandon their schooling to fetch water.
Elina Mwale, a resident of Kuphaz Village in Mchinji District, explains, “We have been drinking water from unprotected wells for so many years. We have lost relatives and friends due to water-related diseases. We joined this project because we want to have a change. We want to have a better life that comes when one is using safe water from protected wells.”
Through this program, each village will form a Community Water Point Committee comprised of men and women to oversee the project. In addition to the wells and pumps, Pump Aid will work with communities to deliver hygiene education, reaching approximately 2,400 people.
The overall goals of the project are to increase the number of people with access to a drinking water source less than 30 minutes from their residence, reduce the cases of diarrhea in children under five and allocate 20% of the water from pumps for small-scale irrigation for crops.
Elina shared her pride in the water project, “Today, we have a well in the middle of our village which has been constructed using modern methods. Shortly, a pump will be installed. This project has ensured us that both men and women were equally represented on the [water] committee and received relevant training to support our participation.”