Health and Nutrition


Water and Sanitation






Water and Sanitation

UNICEF Malawi/2010/Noorani
© UNICEF Malawi/2010/Noorani

Adequate water, sanitation and hygiene facilities are key to reducing the risks of diseases such as diarrhoea, which kills many under-five infants in Malawi. Simple hand washing with soap therefore is the most cost effective intervention to prevent many diseases that claim lives of children and leave many disfigured. Additionally, good sanitary facilities provide a safe and private place for feminine hygiene and are incentives for girls to stay in school. Statistics indicate that in Malawi, only 6 percent of the rural population has access to improved latrines. Only 0.1 percent of mothers wash their hands with soap at all critical times such as before preparing food, eating, changing babies’ nappies, after using toilets, and feeding babies. In primary schools, the sanitation coverage is estimated at 23 percent. Only 4.2 percent of schools have hand washing facilities with soap. On a positive note, 81.5 percent of schools use a protected water source. UNICEF has supported government to draft the Open Defecation Free Malawi Strategy which has been integrated in the national water, sanitation and hygiene programme. Stakeholders such as traditional leaders and the media have been involved to sensitise communities on the dangers of open defecation.

Key Result & Indicator

The overall goal of the water, sanitation and hygiene programme is to ensure that by the end of 2016, at least 83 percent of women and children access improved water supply facilities and 60 percent of households use improved sanitation facilities.


Better water, sanitation and hygiene practices are catalysts for the survival of children and women. Apart from disease prevention, improved water supply services have direct impact on the lives of women and girls by among others, reducing the burden of carriage. Inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene facilities also negatively impact the health education of children. It’s estimated that about 30 percent of boreholes and 50 percent of gravity schemes in Malawi do not function. Building on the past experience of working with districts, communities and the private sector, UNICEF will support 15 districts to institute better water, sanitation and hygiene facilities in schools and communities.


  1. Low cost options for safe water supply such as shallow wells with rope pumps and spring protection
  2. Small gravity schemes and alternative drilling technics to be explored in rural communities
  3. Hygiene promotion, emphasising interpersonal communication through network of extension workers and volunteers
  4. Special events to create momentum for hygiene practices.
  5. Schools and Community Child  Based Care Centres to be used as hygiene promotion centres through the introduction of teachers/learners materials and demonstration of key hygiene messages and technologies
  6. Installation of better sanitation facilities in schools
  7. Construction of latrines at health centres
  8. Training teachers in three key hygiene practices, namely; use of latrines, safe drinking water and hand washing with soap
  9. Establishment of school gardens using urine as fertiliser.





VIDEO: Sopo: Children's Best Friend

A 12 minute film about Sopo in bubble trouble. A joint production of The Government of Malawi , UNICEF ESARO and UNICEF Malawi.

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