Water and Sanitation in Malawi

If you took a quick look at the rural water supply and sanitation situation in Malawi, you’d think that things were in great shape—over 40,000 rural water points and toilets outside most homes—almost 80% coverage. But if you dig a little deeper, you’ll see a different reality—sustainability and actual usage are serious concerns. Water points are often placed haphazardly, based on ease of drilling, political need, or NGO desire. A significant proportion of existing water points are either broken or placed poorly, meaning they run dry when they’re needed most. Many latrines aren’t actually used by all household members and once basic latrines are in place there is little support for households to adopt increasingly effective sanitation technologies. Interventions have focused on increasing the number of wells or latrines when, in fact, there’s a fundamental need to focus on the larger water and sanitation system—the support and maintenance mechanisms that ensure water points are providing water continuously and long-term sanitation facilities aren’t just available but are actually being used and continuously improved.

EWB is focused on that systemic need, incubating and scaling innovations that are allowing the government to improve management systems, identifying ways to ensure wells are monitored and maintained, and ensuring that sanitation efforts lead to learning and usage.

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