Improving the Lives of Children and Communities with Safe Water
Safe water for every child
It is break time, and Nancy is busy cooling herself off with water to fight one of the hottest weathers that Chikwawa district is currently experiencing. According to the day's weather forecast, Chikwawa would experience a maximum temperature of 43 Degrees Celsius. This, however, has been surpassed as the maximum temperature ever recorded for the day is 45 Degrees Celsius.
This temperature is normal for the lower shire district and the reason 3,450 learners at Bereu Primary School are grateful for having four water points in the school campus.
For the past five years that Nancy had been coming to school, she only knew and drank from one borehole that the learners shared with the surrounding community.
"The challenge was that we were struggling to fill even just a bottle of water from the borehole as there used to be more people from the nearby villages coming to fetch water from the same source with weak water flow," says Nancy, 13 years old and in Standard 6.
"Most of the time, I was going back to class without quenching my thirst, hoping to try again during the second break, but the community members would still want us to queue up on the line to fill our bottles of water," she added.
Lack of water at the school caused many problems for the learners, teachers, and people in the nearby villages. Thus, the installation of a new piped water system at the school by UNICEF Malawi, with support from UNICEF Switzerland, has brought much-needed relief and improvement in the lives of the people living in the Bereu area.
UNICEF Malawi partnered with UNICEF Switzerland to improve access to safely managed water in several communities and schools. This is helping learners and people from surrounding communities to save their time from walking long distances to fetch water and access improved water quality as the system is equipped with a chlorination system.
Joyce Khuleya is one of the community members benefiting from the project and does not hide her excitement through her contagious smile throughout the interview.
"When we heard from the headteacher that UNICEF is bringing safe water here, I never believed him, as I could not remember the last time I used or drank water from a tap. For the 14 years that I have stayed in this village, I had never washed or cooked with water from a tap," said Joyce.
"We used to fight for water and would spend over two hours on a queue to fetch the water. This also affected our school-going children as it meant going to school late after they had assisted us with fetching water in the morning."
She says their children frequently suffered from cholera, and getting them treated at a distant Chikwawa District Hospital took much of their time.
Now, this is a thing of the past. As she stays close to the school, which has water points with eight taps, it is now easier for Joyce to fetch water more than six times just in the morning instead of spending over three hours to fetch a 20 litres bucket of water before the UNICEF intervention.
James Dziko, the deputy headteacher at Bereu Primary School, expresses his excitement and appreciation for UNICEF's support.
"Having close to 3,500 learners using one borehole was a nightmare. Our district is very hot; as you can see today, the temperature is over 43 Degrees Celsius, so you can imagine how learners were struggling to get water," says Dziko.
"We now have families coming from as far as two Kilometers just to access this safe water. Thanks to
UNICEF and its partners, we have even planted bananas and flowers around the school because we are able to get water nearby," he concludes.