Water is always a problem in rural Malawi—either the land is eroded and seeds swept away in the torrential annual rains, or the dry season loses the community water supply, placing colossal pressure on the public bore-holes, and dirty, infected rivers and wells.
A broken bore-hole, serving several villages, can be life-threatening - especially where much of the population is already seriously weakened
by hunger and disease.
So what does a repaired bore-hole mean to a woman in the bush?
She has time to care for her family and provide relatively stress-free, clean, pure water. Cooking, hygiene, laundry, and land irrigation are all possible, and she has time for social interaction and community projects.
Water .... Bore-hole repair
Women have to walk, often for hours, to find clean water then carry it back on their heads. We weighed a random bucket - this lady was carrying 23kgs! Sometimes they are charged for water at the neighbouring pump, and congestion there means queues. With so many of their daylight hours focused on gathering water, inevitably their fields are neglected and the harvest affected.
Alternatively, they might choose to collect water from rivers or wells, probably dirty and infected with water-borne disease. Those in our target group—orphans, the elderly, disabled and AIDS-affected are particularly prone to make this choice through frailty or ill health.
A broken bore-hole -
eerily quiet and deserted
Clean water is an hour‘s walk away and with
water security such a high priority, they were
able to spend less time in their fields so harvested
less than expected. This in turn caused more hardship and hunger.
Now this bore-hole has been repaired, and clean water flows again, the villagers plan to plant a community vegetable garden in the previously barren soil around the bore-hole!
An important bore-hole, it served
3 large villages— approx 2000 people, but it had been broken for years according to the villagers.
There is a well nearby, but it was dry.
They had tried to contribute towards the borehole’s repair, but had never been able to collect enough for the parts.
The 12-man committee here is very good. They have been trained to repair and maintain the borehole and plan to set a small contribution fee via the Village Chief to finance future repairs.
This borehole had been out of action for seven months and served 450 households.
The nearest borehole was an hour away, where they had to queue and pay for the water.
The sick and elderly had little alternative but to send young ones, sometimes only 3 years old - to collect water when their siblings were unavailable at school.
Nailsoni Village Bore-hole
They often walked alone long distances to the boreholes, several times, carrying about a gallon of water back on their heads each trip, just like the older girls.
Over the years, we’ve repaired many boreholes, restoring clean, safe water to many thousands in the remote areas, often in in partnership with “Wilmslow Wells” - another UK charity
Each borehole is assessed individually and the villagers interviewed to check their level of support. It’s customary in Malawi for committees to be set up to take responsibility for each borehole, and there is usually someone close who is trained to repair and maintain it. The problem comes when the parts that are needed are way beyond local resources.
We found this borehole abandoned and wrapped in sacking, it had been broken for about a year, and served 3 villages – 192 households. Several journeys a day, and congestion at the next borehole meant a great chunk of the daylight hours were used just collecting water for the family.
The community had wanted to set up a library, and started a village vegetable garden, but with lives so focused on water, these community projects were neglected, then dropped.
However, there is now joy and optimism in the village. Since the repair, the water flows freely and the hub of the local community is buzzing again.
Ladies here reported great difficulty in being able to carry adequate water for bathing, laundry, and cooking. So basic hygiene was a problem, as well as drinking, and the irrigation of their little bits of land. Consequently depressed food yields caused further stress and anxiety so a tough lifestyle became even more miserable.
Chinzeti Village Bore-hole
So Aid Africa, in partnership with Wilmslow Wells, provided the means, and now water is available to all.
This is a heavily used borehole, it not only serves 2 villages, but also the local school.
We replaced the worn parts, and now school children and villagers alike have a clean, reliable water supply again.
When we first visited this borehole, it was working, but poorly. The desperate community had contributed what they could and made a temporary repair, but dreaded once again having to face the future without water
Namandoto Village Bore-hole
This borehole is beside a main road so had previously been a popular stopping-off place for travellers too.
There is a dedicated committee here able to repair and maintain the borehole in the future, it just lacked the funds to buy the parts.
Ndalama Village Bore-hole