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Bringing safe water and sanitation to communities in Thyolo, Malawi

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In 2008, a borehole was drilled at Kasaila Primary School, Thyolo, providing a vital source of water for pupils and the surrounding community. The community managed their borehole by contributing to a maintenance fund and employing local area mechanics to repair faults until 2012, when the pump suffered a major breakdown and needed full rehabilitation.

The absence of safe water at the primary school had many implications on the health and education of the pupils and greatly affected local residents too.

The non-functional borehole at Kasaila Primary School

The non-functional borehole at Kasaila Primary School

“We have a school feeding program at this school, in which we provide porridge to learners at break-time. Normally, when the school borehole malfunctions, the learners, after eating their porridge, would go to a shallow well in the neighbouring village to drink water or clean their cups. The village is very far and this consequently had a negative impact on the learners’ education in that they would take longer to come back to school, eventually missing some of their important class lessons” – Atanazio David, the Head Teacher of Kasaila Primary School.

Atanazio David explained that the lack of access to safe water at the school also had a negative impact on the school-feeding program itself. The lack of water demotivated volunteers who came to the school to cook porridge for the children, as they also had to walk long distances in order to fetch water to make the porridge.

Atanazio shared that the situation at the school also had an impact on pupil’s health.

“Pupils usually use the water from the borehole to clean the latrines and school classrooms. The lack of access to safe water made the learners unable to clean the latrines and classrooms, which normally left them in very unhygienic conditions. This eventually exposed the learners to risks of infections and led to the school being a poor learning environment for the children.”

The school reported increased rates of diarrhoea in both pupils and teachers as they were forced to collect water from an unprotected shallow well in the surrounding village. As such, this affected attendance and class performance due to increased sick days.

Pupils collecting water from an unprotected shallow well

Pupils collecting water from an unprotected shallow well in the surrounding village

Through The One Foundation’s Thyolo programme, a new small-scale gravity-fed water supply scheme was established in Kasaila village, which reaches the school. The water supply scheme has 8 communal taps and one of them is situated at Kasaila Primary School. The surrounding communities and the school management were engaged in the whole process of constructing the tap at the school.

Atanazio explains how the construction of the tap has impacted the school, as well as learners:

“There have been tremendous improvements at this school since the construction of the new school communal tap. Our students no longer miss lessons as they now have a water supply right at the school and they no longer go to the neighbouring village to draw water from the unprotected shallow well. Furthermore, the sanitation in the toilets and classrooms has greatly improved as there is now enough water to clean them every day, making the school a more conducive environment for learning. The tap has also impacted our school-feeding programme as more women now come to volunteer to cook porridge for the learners. As such, the porridge cooked is now being efficient for all the children, increasing the students’ school attendance everyday.”

Children by new water point

Attendance of pupils to school has improved since the installation of the gravity-fed water supply.

The One Foundation‘s vision is a world in which everyone has access to clean, safe water, forever. You can read more about our work in Malawi on our project pages.

Photo credits: United Purpose

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