The Malawi Water Project at a Glance
The Malawi Water Project serves some of the poorest and most remote villages in Malawi, Africa, with the least access to clean water.
The project produces and delivers biosand water filters and training on proper sanitation and hygiene to Malawian villages most in need of clean, safe drinking water. The project provides training to selected individuals from two areas of the country to learn how to construct, install and maintain biosand water filters. The project provides training to individuals to become Community Health Promoters who will teach people from their villages proper sanitation and hygiene practices. It distributes the filters to target areas and monitors and evaluates each filter to ensure proper functioning and usage
The results of our work are readily apparent, for example, in the improvement in health of villagers receiving biosand filters and sanitation and hygiene training, and in the fact that villages with filters supplied by the project have been free of cholera despite being surrounded by affected villages.
The Malawi Water Project is operated by the registered Canadian charity Healthy Lives International Society. The Malawi Water Project is fortunate to be working with two registered NGO Malawian agents; the Anglican Diocese of Northern Malawi (ADNM) and the Anglican Diocese of Southern Malawi (ADSM). Bishop Fanuel Magangani from the ADNM and Bishop Alinafi Kalemba from the ADSM work with us to serve the villagers of Malawi who do not have access to clean drinking water. Most villagers in Malawi live on approximately $1 USD per day. The government does not have the funds to provide clean water to all villages. The goal of the Malawi Project is to improve health and alleviate suffering due to water borne illnesses by providing clean, safe drinking water to families especially vulnerable children.
The primary method of providing clean water is to train villagers on proper sanitation and hygiene and on the construction of biosand water filters. Our services include providing materials to construct the filters, train people on the construction of the filters, distribute the filters to the target population, train villagers on the proper use and maintenance of the filters and monitor and evaluate the usage and effectiveness of the filters.
Our client base is villagers who only have access to water that is contaminated due to pathogens. More than half of those served by Malawi Water Project are children.
Deaths due to water borne illness are particularly high in children under 5 years of age. Illness in older children and adults results in their inability to work, inability to attend school, and extra costs for medication. The Malawi Water Project is an important program for these villages because we can eliminate water borne illness and provide a most important resource, clean water!
Our service improves the ability of families to care for children and achieve goals of self-sufficiency. The cost to provide a filter to a family is a small investment in comparison to cost of illness in terms of health and economic issues. The program saves children’s lives through providing a basic necessity of life.
The mission of The Malawi Water Project is to eliminate water borne illness in Malawi by providing clean, safe drinking water through a network of agencies and programs. Our services will provide training on the construction and maintenance of the bio sand water filter as well as on techniques of proper sanitation and hygiene. We will also provide funding for the training and construction materials, distribution, monitoring and evaluation. Our services will provide opportunities for self sufficiency through providing employment.
Jerry Hamilton showing villagers how to set up the filter.
The Malawi Water Project is designed to create construction and training sites to produce and deliver bio sand water filters to serve villages in need of clean, safe drinking water. Our objectives are:
- To provide training to selected individuals from two areas of the country to learn how to construct, install and maintain biosand water filters.
- To provide training to individuals to become Community Health Promoters who will teach people from their villages proper sanitation and hygiene practices.
- Establish agreements with local agencies to promote community health through presentations.
- Establish agreements with agencies to provide training to villagers on the installation and maintenance of the filters
- Establish agreements with agencies to hire and train employees to construct and distribute bio sand water filters
- Effectively distribute the filters to target areas
- Monitor and evaluate each filter to ensure proper functioning and usage
The program’s focus is to identify and utilize resources for clean water in the country in order to eliminate water borne illness among families in the target areas. The program performs the following:
- Establishes training centres for the production of bio sand water filters
- Provides training on obtaining clean water and proper sanitation
- Establishes agreements with agencies to construct, distribute, monitor and evaluate the bio sand water filter
The Malawi Water Project initially funded a pilot project to provide 50 water filters to families in the villages in the southern part of Malawi. Funding was provided to the Blantyre Synod of the Church of Central African Presbyterian (CCAP). The CCAP purchased filters from Father Raphael Mponda with the Anglican Diocese of Southern Malawi, who constructed them. The filters were then taken to the villages and set up. Father Raphael provided training to the field workers with the CCAP on the set up and maintenance of the filters. In turn, the field workers trained the villagers on the installation and maintenance. Villagers who received the filters paid a nominal fee to help defray costs and to provide a feeling of ownership. We also provided 3 filters as a pilot project to a remote village near Mfera in southern Malawi.
In December 2011 we held a training course on water, sanitation and hygiene at the Demonstration Garden operated by the ADNM in Northern Malawi. The training was coordinated by Tal Woolsey from CAWST in Calgary ( Center for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology). The course was taught by trainers from their Zambia Water Expertise and Training Center. It was a 2 week course, the first week covered such topics as harmful bacteria, proper food handling, hand washing, placement of latrines, disease prevention etc. The majority of time was spent on giving the participants the skills to give effective community presentations on proper sanitation and hygiene. This training was for the Community Health Promoters who also were introduced to the concept of the biosand water filter so that they could present basic information about the filter to their community members.
The second part of the course covered the construction, installation and maintenance of the biosand water filter. Twenty four people in total were trained, approximately 16 were trained as Community Health Promoters and Volunteer Community Health Promoters.
The Biosand Implementers were trained to construct, install and maintain the filters.
The biosand filter course was intended to teach the techniques of properly constructing, installing and maintaining the concrete filter. It was a hands-on process and several filters were constructed under a temporary shelter.
The need for clean, safe water in Malawi is overwhelming. We originally focussed on three geographic areas however, in 2017 we amalgamated two of the areas in the south to reduce in-country administrative costs and focus on areas of the greatest need.
1. South Project: The South Project is operated through the Anglican Diocese of Southern Malawi. It operates from a factory that the Project has recently built in the Chikwawa district. The Project is operated by a Field Coordinator, two Biosand Filter Implementers and three Community Health Promoters. The Biosand Implementers construct and install the filters and the Community Health Promoters deliver presentations to villages on proper sanitation and hygiene in the surrounding area. There are also 6 volunteers who work with the Project to help prepare the filters for installation and help their villages maintain proper sanitation and hygiene.
2. North Project: The Anglican Diocese of Northern Malawi operates the North Project. The Diocese hosted the initial training at their Chiwowa Chisala Demonstration Garden which is used for teaching villagers new farming techniques to improve the quantity and quality of produce from their plots of land. The facility was used as the training centre for the Malawi Water Project and housed 24 people who took the initial 2 week training course. A permanent shelter has been created and the construction of filters is ongoing. The North Project is operated by a Field Coordinator, two Biosand Implementers and three Community Health Promoters. There are also 6 volunteers who help with the Project. The Project has been providing filters in the area surrounding Chiwowa Chisala since the training in December of 2011. In 2016, the Project began moving further out into more remote areas to provide filters and training on proper sanitation and hygiene. One such area is called Kabwafu/ Emangeni. The second area is located on Lake Malawi and is called Kawanga.
Helen Timoffee with newly constructed filters
Resources: We are fortunate to have the Center for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology (CAWST) located in Calgary. This organization has supported the establishment of a Water Expertise and Training (WET) Center in Zambia. Trainers from the WET center provided the 2 week training course at the Chiwowa Chisala demonstration garden. The Zambia group brought 2 molds with them for the training and these molds have been distributed to the construction sites.
We have a group of dedicated volunteers in Canada who oversee the Project. More detailed information on these volunteers can be found under the page heading Who We Are. Volunteers from Canada go to Malawi at least once a year to give support, monitor the Project and review financial records.
Lorna Greene helping oil the mold
David Greene teaching how to sift gravel for the filter.
It was critical to implement both programs in the south and in the north immediately following the training so that the knowledge gained was not lost.
Bishop Mangangani giving certificates and congratulating trainees.
For seven months in 2013, we were fortunate to have two Project Volunteers from Calgary, Ashif and Reeshma Bhura, who worked to set up proper financial and program monitoring systems. They also taught staff how to use computers, including WORD, EXCEL and the internet.
From September 2016 to the current time, Sarah Falconer from Calgary, has been overseeing the Project in Malawi. Sarah has managed the construction of the factory in the south and has assisted in another training session held in September 2017 to update existing staff and train new staff on the construction of the filter and on how to provide effective training to villagers on proper sanitation and hygiene.
Father Raphael demonstrating clean water coming from the filter after dirty water is poured in.
Ashif and Reeshma working on the project in Malawi in 2013
The factory in the south was officially opened in 2017 by Bishop Kalemba.
Sarah Falconer is living in southern Malawi and is our Country Manager for the Project.
Sarah with some of our team members in 2017