Fairview Alberta Newspaper Article
Narrative in the article
Malawi Water to supply what we take for granted
There was a fundraiser come awareness raiser for the Malawi Water Project at the Fairview Legion on Sunday.
Canon Greene, formerly of St. Helen’s Anglican Church in Fairview, spent some time in Malawi and learned about living conditions there spoke briefly as did his son David Greene who has travelled in Malawi and helps with fundraising as a result of his experiences.
The fundraising is done through the Deer Park United Church in Calgary.
Helen Timoffee was the main speaker and she explained both the technology behind the water filters being built now in Malawi and the process they use to get people to buy into building the filters.
The filters were designed by the Centre for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology at the University of Calgary but are built on site in Africa using local labour and local materials.
She explained they start with education, telling people about “the three stones” of clean water, proper hygiene and good sanitation, then explain to them the filters will protect them from the diarrhea that kills so many people there.
They spread information by telling children at schools about the importance of hand washing to avoid spreading disease and the children tell their parents.
They use local connections to spread the information, talk to the local headmen to arrange public meetings to explain the filters and African teams teach the locals how to build their own filters.
The filters are made of concrete poured in a form and use sand and gravel as a filter medium. Dirty contaminated water goes in the top and clean cool water comes out the pipe as long as they keep putting water through it every day.
The maintenance is very simple and needs no tools.
What makes their campaign effective is the local people buy into it and contribute either labour or money towards building the filters in order to get one for their hut.
So far the Calgary-based organization has 50 filters built and working to supply clean water, more built but not distributed yet.
The filter is being spread around the world where needed by other organizations and there are two million of them out there, with the goal of having 20 million by the year 2020.
Why Malawi? Malawi is a poor country with no gold, no diamonds, no oil so nothing to fight over and no civil war.
It is largely rural and at least 90% of the people there have no access to running water or electricity.
The agriculture is largely subsistence agriculture, people growing maize to survive, although they are learning to also grow vegetable such as tomatoes, cabbages and sweet potatoes to add some variety to their diet.
The country is subject to frequent flooding which wipes out houses, crops and other infrastructure needed to survive but the project is teaching people to build latrines which are not washed away with every flood, getting rid of one source of contamination.
Many people are illiterate and an elementary school may be a teacher with a blackboard and chalk and a group of students eager to learn. No books, no paper, no supplies of any kind unless some NGO like the Malawi Water Project (which sent a container full of educational and medical supplies there) has helped them out.
The country needs many things but according to Timoffee and the Greenes the people there are very cheerful and need clean water to help them so they can earn a living. Someone looking after sick children cannot work, cannot look after the crops they need to feed those children. The equation is very simple.
Anyone interested in contributing to the campaign to supply Malawi can do so through the website http://www.malawiwaterproject.com, by mail care off Deer Park United Church 77 Deer Point Rd SE, Calgary or contact Neil Boyd for more information.
The above articles were in the Calgary Herald newspaper and help to describe the background and activities of The Malawi Water Project. We are currently working with Bishop Fanuel Magangani of the Anglican Diocese of Northern Malawi to set up a construction site for the bio-sand water filters. We are working with CAWST (Center for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology) to arrange training for locals to learn how to make the filters, install them, monitor their usage and provide assistance with maintenance. Local villagers will also be taught proper sanitation techniques.
For more information on future plans for this program please go to the Project Details page.