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Clean water project

Rated the poorest country in the world in 2015 by the World Bank, Malawi is one of Africa’s most densely populated and least developed countries where more than 2 million people lack access to safe water. With our local partners, One has provided clean, safe water to over 500,000 people through a number

of projects ranging from water and sanitation programmes to our very own pump repair programme and training school. We have also established chicken farming, fuel efficient stoves and school feeding programmes.

£3.4 million invested to date



Over 500,000 lives changed

Project details

Project overview

Malawi is known as ‘the warm heart of Africa’, and it truly is. However with over 2 million people without a clean water supply, and waterborne diseases being the major cause of death for over 1,700 young children every year, providing improved water access and sanitation takes on urgent dimensions.

Water, hygiene and sanitation programmes

We have funded multiple large-scale programmes in the districts of Katunga, Dedza, Thyolo, Mulanje and Blantyre. Working in close partnership with local and district councils, our projects support vulnerable rural communities through the provision of clean water. This ranges from the drilling of new boreholes to the rehabilitation of non-functional water points. It also includes providing tools, training and educating beneficiaries to ensure the sustainable operation and maintenance of their systems.

Drilling rig

We have contributed over £100,000 to the purchase of a drilling rig. Operating your own rig within programmes brings consistently lower costs compared to commercial contractors rates and gives flexibility to accommodate and work at the pace of the beneficiary community in the borehole construction process. The rig sees the installation of approximately 65-75 additional boreholes every year, and working to government standards of 250 people per water pump, this will bring safe water to 18,750 rural people yearly and over 187,500 people over the ten year life expectancy of the rig.

Pump repair programme

Sustainability is one of the toughest challenges within development, particularly in the water sector. With over 250 people using the pumps daily, breakdowns are inevitable. It’s therefore critical when a project is first implemented that communities are fully trained on how to repair pumps, how to service them, where to locate parts when they break and that they have the necessary tools for repairs.

Community water tariffs are also essential to ensure local ownership and that communities have the funds to purchase replacement parts when necessary.

Without all of these elements in place, projects aren’t sustainable and it’s down to this very reason that over 40% of hand pumps have failed across Malawi in the past; leaving thousands of pumps dysfunctional and communities with no option but to find less reliable sources of water (which are often a long way to walk or are contaminated).

Inspired to tackle this nationwide problem, we launched our very own pump repair programme in 2012. The project initially set out to restore the supply of water in Nankumba and Madzibango, through teams on the ground repairing hand pumps, educating communities and setting up committees responsible for the on-going maintenance.

In the first year of this pilot programme, over 150 non-functional water points were repaired, reaching over 85,000 people. Four years on we’ve now rehabilitated over 500 dysfunctional water pumps, expanded our programme to the Thyolo Escarpment and Shire Valley and helped to prevent the spread of cholera through our rehabilitations in the aftermath of the severe floods.

The programme is also about to see the construction of Malawi’s first training facility. This water management training workshop in Chimwabvi will showcase every type of water technology, from boreholes to afridevs and malda pumps, teaching villagers typical problems that can arise with each and providing communities with the skill, tools and knowledge that they need to maintain their own water supplies.

Across all of our programmes in Malawi, we have now:

  • Installed over 500 new water points
  • Repaired over 500 non-functional water pumps
  • Ensured over 60 villages are now ‘open defecation free’ and supported in the construction of latrines
  • Educated over 4,500 children in hygiene