WASH services in screening centres delight returnees

Leaving no one behind with access to safe water

Priscilla Chawinga, United Purpose
A Malawian child arriving from South Africa amid the COVID -19 pandemic washes hands at Kamuzu College of Nursing in Blantyre on May
UNICEF Malawi/2020/James Chavula
21 July 2020

Malawians who have returned home in the face of COVID-19 have expressed their gratitude and satisfaction to services and facilities available in screening venues they are being kept.

Machinga Teachers Training College (TTC) is one of the screening centres in the country boasting of quality water and sanitation services and facilities. Maxwell Magalasi, a returnee, went through this centre. He is thankful for the services UK Aid, UNICEF and United Purpose are providing at Machinga TTC.

Some of the services include installed prefabricated pit latrines that are helping in promoting sanitation towards preventing the spread of coronavirus.

Salijeni Jelewani making use of the handwashing facilities at Machinga TTC
United Purpose/2020/Priscilla Chawinga
Salijeni Jelewani making use of the handwashing facilities at Machinga TTC

“We cannot use the toilets inside the hostels because there is no water flow in the toilets. So, these (prefabricated) latrines are of great help to us and they provide privacy,” says Maxwell Magalasi.

Provision of services and materials such as water tanks and handwashing facilities is also another key intervention in the emergency WASH response to COVID-19 by UP with support from UNICEF.

Salijeni Jelewani, another returnee at Machinga TTC, is also satisfied with water provision services and facilities.

Maxwell Magalasi standing in front of some of prefabricated latrines at Machinga TTC
United Purpose/2020/Priscilla Chawinga
Maxwell Magalasi standing in front of some of prefabricated latrines at Machinga TTC

“Since we arrived here, we have not experienced any problem related to water shortage. We can freely drink, bathe and wash because there is enough water throughout. We are thankful to service providers for this,” Jelewani says.

Furthermore, the availability of hand washing facilities and soap at the camp is allowing returnees to wash their hands frequently, according to Jelewani.

“I understand that washing hands frequently is very important in the fight against COVID-19,” he adds.

A COVID-19 banner welcomes travellers to Mwanza Border Post in Malawi
UNICEF Malawi/2020/James Chavula
A COVID-19 banner welcomes travellers to Mwanza Border Post in Malawi

Since the onset of the COVID-19 response interventions, UNICEF with funding from UK Aid has supported the installation of emergency latrines at emergency treatment centres, border posts, as well as main COVID-19 screening centres for returnees such as Machinga TTC. Each latrine ensures privacy and has a functional handwashing station with soap.

“The timely provision of emergency WASH facilities at returnees’ screening centers is essential to ensure proper hygiene conditions as well as adequate water for people’s needs," says Michele Paba, UNICEF Malawi Chief of Water Sanitation and Hygiene. UNICEF and UP, thanks to DFID financial support, are frontlines in the COVID-19 response in Malawi."