By Suleman Chitera
People of Mchezi, especially women, had to walk a distance of about 2 kilometers to get water from shallow wells, a situation which made Lilongwe Water Board (LWB) and Plan Malawi to conceptualize the School Wash Project.
One of the project’s objectives is to improve access of safe and potable water to peri-urban residents of Lilongwe. The project is being supported by Vitens Evides International (VEI) and Water for Life.
On Thursday 21st February, 2019, 15 kiosks that have been constructed under the project were handed over to the communities of Mchezi. The 15 kiosks will be serving about 4,500 people.
Speaking during the handover ceremony, VEI Chief Executive Officer, Marco Schouten emphasized his organization’s desire to provide access to potable water to more people in developing countries such as Malawi.
“It is our desire to see people having access to potable water. We hope people of this area will take care of the project and make sure they all benefit from it,” explained Schouten.
LWB Chief Executive Officer, Eng. Alfonso Chikuni said the Board has already introduced a policy of subsidizing water services to low-income areas through kiosks that have been constructed in such areas.
“Due to urbanization and rapid population growth, LWB is facing an increased pressure in expanding water services especially serving the proliferation of low income areas. Area 39 had 23 kiosks serving, 6,900 people. Now we will be able to serve about 11,000 people. However, with the growing population more kiosks will be required,” said Chikuni.
The project’s total cost was €310,000 (about K259, 780, 000 at current exchange rate); and Plan Netherlands contributed €250,000 (K209,500,000) while VEI contributed €60,000 (K50, 280, 000). A total of €90,000 (K75,420,000) funded the component of construction and network reticulation for the 15 kiosks.
“The 15 kiosks were constructed between January and May 2018 for a value of €40,000 while reticulation works of value €50,000 for a total of 11 km have been done from May 2018 to January 2019,” added Chikuni.
Senior Group Village Headman, Mwadenje said was delighted that finally his people will have access to potable water.
The project has not only improved access to water but also created employment to the communities of Mchezi. About 20% of the labour force used by contractors, were women.
To ensure there is sustainability, the constructed kiosks will be managed by the community through a Water Users Association (WUA) which has been established and trained by LWB. Board. Not only does this model improve sustainability of the project, but also social-economically empowers communities.
LWB has over 750 kiosks in low income areas. A constructed kiosk services 300 people or over 30 households by providing access potable water