SawamNet Meet Opens in Joberg

Johannesburg,16 April 2019-Southern Africa Wash Media Network (SawamNet) training workshop has opened in South Africa in Johannesburg today.

The workshop has drawn participants from media houses from the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) region. The aim of the workshop is to equip the media with the skills in reporting Wash in the region.

Southern Africa Wash Regional Office is sponsoring the workshop.

The meeting will take three days and Chilufya Chileshe from WaterAid Regional Office opened the workshop.

She called on participants to use the meeting for the good of their journalism career and report of Wash sector.

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Water crisis hits some Ntcheu Communities

A 3.72 million cubic metres Mpira dam in Ntcheu district in the central region of Malawi is gone. And a total of 500,000 people are without water.
The reason for this crisis is simply because government is not interested to helping communities to be supplied with clean water.
The construction of the dam was finalized in 1993 and soon after its construction people had no water problems. Boreholes were also drilled in the area where the dam is situation but today its just history.
Because the dam is dry due to negligence coupled with climate change communities have resorted to walking long distances in search of water.
But government is promising that something will be done to help communities get the much needed water for their lives.
With rains now falling communities hope that the levels of water in the dam will improve and government hopes that this too will improve the situation.
Ntcheu district is one of the 28 districts in the country facing serious water crisis and government has been promising communities to improve on water supply but the situation seems not changing.
Many other areas are without proper water supply and with high levels of corruption currently underway it remains to be seen whether communities, not only in Ntcheu and other districts will be supplied with clean water.
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Thieves ransack water systems

In an attempt to scare communities thieves in most parts of Lilongwe, Malawi’s capital are on a mission stealing water taps which they sell to vendors at black markets for as low as US$4 each.

In a recent development thieves went on a rampage in townships of Area 49, 25 and nearby areas where a number of water connecting equipment have been stolen.

“All this is happening because of high level of unemployment,” said Andrew Galeta, a resident of the capital.

He said most of these people stealing water pipes and other accessories are selling them cheap for survival.

“These people need money for the daily survival. Selling them at cheap price means they need money they dont carry even if they are caught and beaten up,” he said.

Malawi has one of the highest unemployment rate in the region with labour statistics indicating that over 35% of the youth are unemployed.

But in an attempt to minimise such unemployment government with funding from the African Development Bank (AfDB) is implementing a youth project aimed at increasing employment rate.

But with the population of the youth growing each day, it is unlikely that thieving of water pipes and other equipment will be a thing of the past.

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Malawi, Zambia cholera outbreak a sad development

By Ralph Mweninguwe
Its is sad that both Malawi and Zambia are facing a cholera outbreak. This should not have happens in the first place considering that both countries spend millions of US$ on water, sanitation and hygiene activities.
Sad still is the fact that both governments do not adequately fund the Wash sector. This outbreak comes on the background that the two countries I 2017 declared a number of villages open defecation free (ODF).
This should not have happened in the first place. Lives could have been spared and not lost to cholera outbreak. And as we enter the new year we must be ashamed of ourselves that we are losing lives that could have been saved.

Lilongwe Water Board Executive Directors should be fired

Lilongwe Water Board (LWB) has been condemned by many including NGOs for giving people in Lilongwe water containing human wastes. I think this is a serious issue and LWB executive team must be held accountable for it. But interestingly the Malawi Government led by President Peter Mutharika hasn’t even condemned it and the president is the Minister Responsible for Water issues. Ministry of Health is quite too on the matter.

The people who drunk the faeces are also quite and are busy complaining on FB and other social media. What a pathetic situation we are in. The Parliamentary Committee responsible for such issues says it wants to meet LWB Chief Executive and other senior guys but after meeting them they have no powers to fire the director. Only the president or the Board can do so. What has happened should not have happened in the first place. Water is life and drinking contaminated water is uncalled for.

I am of the view that the whole executive team be fired and answer for their actions.

Water is key to ODF success

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Chief Director (c) in the Ministry of Health Chimwemwe Banda hands over ODF certificate to chief Kayembe in Kasungu district

by Raphael Mweninguwe

Villages in Malawi are now being declared open defecation free (ODF), thanks to local and international non-governmental organizations such as Participatory Development Initiative (PDI), WaterAid and Concern Universal (CU).

A decade or so ago issues of ODF were rarely discussed and because of our cultural and traditional beliefs people hardly talked about defecation freely. The chiefs themselves could not talk about ODF because it was considered a taboo.

But total the chiefs are in the forefront telling their subjects not to defecate in the open and in Traditional Authority Sitola in Machinga by-laws have been put in place that prevents people from defecating in the bush and once found the by-laws breaker pays a find to the village headman.
Traditional Authority Mwase in Kasungu set an example of other chiefs when his villages were declared ODF about two years ago and just a few days ago, Peter Kumpalume, Minister of Health declared TA Kayembe and Chikhaza in Dowa ODF at a function which CU organized. The function took place in TA Kayembe.

CU in partnership with Dowa and Kasungu District Councils is implementing the Integrated Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Project targeting 11 TA’s with funding from UKAID through UNICEF to the tune of MK 1.6 billion. The project started in July 2015 after completing a 2-year Phase 1 Project funded to the tune of MK 1.3 billion. The Phase 2 Project, according to CU, builds upon the gains of Phase 1 while giving greater emphasis to borehole water point’s sustainability, scaling up Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) and hygiene promotion among target rural communities.

CU Country director Heather Campbell said the project targets 420,000 people from the 11 TAs in Dowa and Kasungu districts. She also said CU has facilitated the construction of 714 boreholes reaching out to 178,500 people.

“In Schools Concern Universal has facilitated the construction of 42 boreholes. Since we embarked on this project in 2013 there has been remarkable improvement in sanitation and hygiene provision,” she said.

TA Kayembe said she was happy with the work that CU is doing in his area and she said people no longer practice open defecation because every household is now having a toilet.

Kusamba Dzonzi, a Member of Parliament for Dowa West, said while ODF is highly appreciated there was need for people to have access to water.

“Some people in the Constituency have no access to water and it is my wish that [Central Region] Water Board should provide people with water so that WASH project can be a complete success. Without water people cannot wash their hands after visiting the toilets,” he said.

Health Minister Kumpalume urged Malawians to take WASH seriously arguing that practicing good sanitation and hygiene would help save about MK8 billion which is spent on treating preventable diseases such as cholera and diarrhea.

He said this money could be used for other things such as construction of new health centres and buying drugs.

Access to water is key to achieving ODF sustainability and not only in the rural areas but in the cities and towns as well. In Machinga TA Sitola lamented one day that his areas requires water for his subjects to have access to improved sanitation and hygiene.

Government should ensure that communities should have access to water and in situations where there is no water or water is scarce people will not priotise handwashing facilities because for them it will be a waste of water.

Assuming someone travels over five kilometres in search of water and when she gets back home getting some water for handwashing will be a hard decision to make.

So if the Minister really needs to save the K8 billion that is ‘wasted’ on saving lives because people have are suffering from preventable diseases such as cholera and diarrhea then it should start by providing people with the basic needs such as water. Politicians should not just make promises on the campaign but it should fulfill the wash promises.

Government should also increase funding to the sector which seems neglected. But Kumpalume defends government that it has no enough money to support the sector 100%. In 2013/14 financial year the WASH sector received 49.6% of the approved provision, according to the Irrigation, Water and sanitation Sector Performance Report.