More than 52% of Malawians live below the national poverty line. According to the most recent Joint Monitoring Program (JMP) Report by UNICEF and WHO, 95% of people in urban areas and 80% in rural areas have access to safe water. Access to sanitation is much lower, with 49% of urban and 51% of rural dwellers 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 62% of people have access to water that meets government standards, while in the rural district of Chikhwawa only 45% 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.
Everyone Forever in Malawi
Everyone Forever is a unique programmatic effort to provide water and sanitation to Everyone in targeted districts and municipalities, Forever. It means these districts and communities never again need another international water agency to address their water challenges. And it provides a model for greater replication, leading to a push for national full water and sanitation coverage. Water For People-Malawi is focusing its Everyone Forever efforts in peri-urban Blantyre and rural Chikhwawa.
Blantyre is Malawi’s fastest-growing city and mercantile capital. A growing population and drought in the countryside drive a steady stream of people there and to other cities in search of better opportunities. Typical of high-growth urban areas in the developing world, many of the city’s residents live in informal, peri-urban areas lacking basic water and sanitation services. Blantyre’s peri-urban areas contain roughly 70% of the city’s population.
Chikhwawa District is 30 miles south of Blantyre. It is a rural area consisting mostly of subsistence farmers, and like the rest of Malawi, is extremely poor. The majority of people live on roughly 50 cents a day and have a life expectancy of 45 years. Less than half the population has access to safe water and improved sanitation.
The district of Rumphi is located in the northern region of Malawi. It has a population of 169,000, making it the country’s least populated district. It is rural and most of its inhabitants are farmers.
Lasting water and sanitation solutions can only be achieved when local role-players—the private sector, civil society, and local government—are supported. As such, Water For People is deeply involved with key local stakeholders, including the Blantyre Water Board and City Assembly; the Chikhwawa and Rumphi district assemblies; local NGOs the Hygiene Village Project, Association for Rural and Community Development, Freshwater Project, and Synod of Livingstonia of the CCAP; and the University of Malawi–Polytechnic and Mzuzu University.
Work in 2012
Water For People–Malawi continues to promote Sanitation as a Business to provide households with sustainable sanitation services. In peri-urban Blantyre, Water For People–Malawi is facilitating businesses that provide various toilet options to families and pit-emptying services to extend the life of toilets. Water For People-Malawi is also facilitating the establishment of two Water User Associations in Blantyre. In addition, 14 communities in Chikhwawa and Rumphi will gain access to safe drinking water, as well as the opportunity to access improved sanitation facilities through local sanitation entrepreneurs. Water For People-Malawi will continue to provide training for circuit riders and promote the distribution of spare parts in local shops. School programming will also take place in five schools.