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Malawi, 7 November 2016: Delivering clean water through innovative community water supply solutions

© UNICEF Malawi/2016/Phwitiko
Brighton demonstrating how his pump works.

By Rebecca Phwitiko

KASUNGU, Malawi, 7 November 2016 – To the untrained eye it looks like a regular pump. But it isn’t. The rope pump, placed on a 10 metre deep well, can draw 20 litres of water in just 30 seconds. This is more than other pumps on the market can do, and more importantly, the rope pump is made of low cost locally available materials.

Thirty-nine (39) year old Brighton Kanike is making these pumps straight out of his workshop in Kasungu. A former bicycle repairman, Brighton says he has always been good with his hands and decided to make the most out of this to earn a living. He perfected his skill at Mzuzu University’s Smart Centre, a UNICEF partner, which works with local entrepreneurs to construct low cost, high quality wells.

Brighton is now running a profitable business manufacturing pumps for human consumption and irrigation. A UNICEF water, sanitation and hygiene programme, implemented by Pump Aid in Kasungu, has linked him to a chain of customers and other service providers in the WASH sector. With funding from UK Aid, the programme offers innovative community water supply solutions by providing communities with the option to set up their own water points for consumption and irrigation in a non-subsidized approach known as self-supply. The programme has researched, tested and documented findings and recommendations to support the possibility of scaling up of self-supply in Malawi.

© UNICEF Malawi/2016/Phwitiko
Phillip and Sellina can now access safe water within their premises.

One of Brighton’s customers is Phillip Chintolo of Chinyanga Village Traditional Authority Njombwa. He and his wife Sellina used to have a well but it dried up years ago. Sellina was forced to draw water from a borehole 1.5 kilometres away. “My wife is sick and she isn’t so young anymore so it was hard for her to make that trip to the borehole back and forth,” says Phillip. He was happy to hear about this option to have a new and improved well by his house. UNICEF’s partner, Pump Aid linked him to a well digger who was trained within the same programme. Later on, a mason came and lined the well before referring him to Brighton who supplied the pump. All this at a total cost of about US$230, which he was able to meet in phases. Phillip, like many others in the area is a tobacco farmer so he could afford to put up a well at a pace he is comfortable with, given the appropriate information and linkages.

Not too far from the Chintolos, in Nkhondokwao Village Charles Majamanda has had one of Brighton’s pumps installed on a community well. He covered the entire cost of the well but now allows 15 other households to use it for about half a dollar per household every month. This money is set aside for repairs and general maintenance of the well. An area mechanic came by two weeks before for some minor repairs. These mechanics have received some technical training on maintenance of all kinds of pumps as well as some business training so that they are able to market themselves and make a living out of it.

Twenty (20) kilometres away, 71 year old Otaniel Banda is able to grow vegetables, tomatoes and onions all year round, as well as water his tobacco nursery and fruit trees. He says this pump is easy to use and is not as labour intensive as other pumps he has used before.

A chain of happy customers and service providers is what this programme has yielded in Kasungu. The programme has trained 25 WASH entrepreneurs who include 15 well diggers, eight area mechanics, one mason and one pump manufacturer. Between May 2015 and March 2016, 346 services and products were sold. These include well digging, deepening and lining as well as pump maintenance and pump sales.

Kasungu is largely sparsely populated and the water point coverage has been less than ideal. The Government of Malawi plans to reach 98 per cent water coverage by 2025 at national level and one of the strategies for achieving this is low cost drilling and private investment, similar to the self-supply model that UNICEF and its partners are piloting in Kasungu.



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