Malawi is a small, densely populated country in southeastern Africa, bordered by Tanzania to the north, Zambia to the west, and Mozambique to the east and south. Of the country’s residents, 85% live in rural areas; the majority of the urban population is concentrated in Lilongwe and Blantyre, the two largest cities in the country.
More than 52% of Malawians live below the national poverty line according to the most recent Joint Monitoring Program Report by UNICEF and the World Health Organization; 84% of people have access to improved water and access to sanitation is much lower, with 53% using improved sanitation facilities. These statistics, however, are considerably inflated. Water For People–Malawi’s current understanding of the water situation in the 21 low-income areas of peri-urban Blantyre is that only 41% of people have access to water that meets government standards, while in the rural district of Chikhwawa only 56% have access to safe drinking water. More striking is that an estimated 15% of people in Chikhwawa and 60% of people in peri-urban Blantyre have access to improved sanitation facilities.
Water For People has been working in Malawi since 2000. In 2006, it changed its strategy from small projects in widespread areas to concentrated efforts in three regions: peri-urban Blantyre and the rural districts of Chikhwawa and Rumphi. Since its start, Water For People-Malawi has become a leader in the water and sanitation sector in the country, promoting innovative and sustainable approaches to water and sanitation services.