Keeping Things running During an Epidemic
You can’t keep a good “Team” down.
In April we decided to close our Biosand Filter Production Facilities (factories) due to the COVID-19 threat. After initially going to rural communities to deliver information on COVID-19, teaching proper hand washing and social distancing, we were concerned about spreading the virus amongst our staff and volunteers at the factories as well as the danger of spreading it to the villages.
So much was unknown about the coronavirus and the expectations were that Malawi’s health care system would be completely overwhelmed with people suffering from severe symptoms of the disease caused by the virus. However, the fear of massive numbers of people becoming infected did not materialize, so our teams encouraged us to open the factories and assured us that they could implement the government’s regulations for employers and begin constructing and installing filters once more. All the government rules were implemented and the teams went back to work in May. The number of volunteers at the factories at any one time was reduced. The community information sessions on proper sanitation and hygiene (the event where the filters are introduced) were limited to small groups and organized so that people could social distance.
Filter installation and follow-up resumed with safety measures in place. Below, two members of our team are following up on filters funded by our partner Formidable Joy
CLEAN WATER FOR A VILLAGE – FOR LITTLE MORE THAN A TOONIE?? READ ON!
Not only have our teams encouraged us to resume most Malawi Water Project activities, they have embarked on a new activity that is badly needed in rural communities. Boreholes (drilled water wells) have broken down and they supply water for hundreds of people. When they break down, women have to walk much further to get water, which uses up time needed to tend to children, gardens, and animals.
Villagers are unable to repair the wells, usually because they do not have the money. Also, they often have no one who knows how to do the repairs, it is not easy to find a parts supplier, and they do not have transport to get the parts to their village. That’s where we can help.
Fisherman’s Rest, a non-profit organization working with us in the South, has trained our South team to repair boreholes and put us in contact with a local parts supplier.
In the South, we already have a list of at least 15 boreholes in need of repair. Next month we plan to begin the same work in the North as well, and that team is already compiling their needs list.
But none of this is possible without your support! While the teams’ travel costs to sites vary, a complete set of borehole parts is about 250,000 Malawian Kwacha, ($480 CDN), though not all repairs cost that much. We recently did one where the part was about two dollars. Imagine being able to provide a water source to hundreds of people for a Toonie! We also sign contracts with village borehole committees who agree to pay for the cost of the parts over a 12 month period. This has been quite a successful process implemented by Fisherman’s Rest, who have found that most communities repay the cost.