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Five Things You Need to Know About Water Quality in Malawi

Water Quality in MalawiClean water is something that is often taken for granted, but certainly not in Malawi. In the last two years, UNICEF helped nearly 50,000 people gain access to improved water supply and produced 500 water points, with the new goal to serve an additional 125,000 people with safe water in 2016. Though overall water quality in Malawi has improved significantly, there is still so much more that can be done.

  1. Many water hand pumps are inoperative, leaving people with no choice but to go back to unsafe water sources. Poor sanitation practices and improper storage of drinking water often lead to waterborne illnesses like cholera. WaterAid is one organization making a difference and supporting the marginalized communities of Malawi by repairing broken wells and handpumps. Showing users how to maintain their own facilities ensures that safe water will be available close to homes year round.
  2. The lack of access to safe water in Malawi has taken a toll on cultivation and increased hunger. A steady water supply is essential to growing enough food to eat, but the extreme weather and pollution where the majority of people in Malawi live make farming difficult. In addition to wells and handpumps, WaterAid also builds simple composting latrines, which help keep water sources clean and provide fertilizer for crops.
  3. According to the USAID Fact Sheet, approximately 4 million people still lack access to safe water. Likewise, 10 million people lack access to adequate sanitation in Malawi. Clean water is essential for a healthy population. Clean Water for Malawi (CWFM) works to provide this basic necessity by drilling water wells in small villages. CWFM has built 402 wells in Malawi since 2010, with each well supplying enough clean water for up to 350 – 500 people.
  4. Lack of access to clean water causes disease and death in Malawi. Approximately 30,000 people die every year in Malawi from issues caused by dirty water, namely diarrhea, dysentery, parasitic infections and food and water-borne illnesses.
  5. Studies show that schools that do not have working toilets or water discourage children from attending and completing their education. In 2007, UNICEF fixed 39 school water points, bringing safe water to 23,000 school children. Public communication strategies regarding hygiene promotion also help to educate individuals in Malawi on the proper use and safe handling of water and sanitation facilities.

With poor water quality in Malawi having such a heavy impact on the lives of locals, organizations like UNICEF, WaterAid and USAID are applauded for their generous contributions.

Making the issue a priority and taking direct action has saved thousands of lives and is hopefully a mindset that will carry on to further improve conditions in Malawi.

Mikaela Frigillana

Photo: Flickr