‘Ending water poverty in Malawi’: Pump Aid creates long-term solutions from short-term help
Malawi is not short of water, it’s famous lake is the third largest in Africa, yet a large proportion of the country’s 20 million people lack reliable access to safe water.
Rural communities rely upon community waterpoints to access clean water but up to 40% of Malawi’s 126,000 waterpoints are deemed non-functional despite decades of international support.
A UK organisation is aiming to change that by taking a business-focused approach to water supply. Beyond Water provides a professionalised repair and maintenance service for a variety of community handpumps.
In return for an affordable annual subscription, customers receive quarterly maintenance visits from a trained mechanic and the guarantee that breakdowns will be fixed within 72 hours. Evidence shows regular repair and maintenance increases pump functionality to over 95%, improving community health, education, and gender equality.
Director of Programmes, Pump Aid, said: “Our experience shows communities have the resources to pay for reliable, quality repair and maintenance of community pumps but there is a lack of information and appropriate products. Fundamental to our work is the idea that ownership and user investment improves real sustainability.”
The social enterprise was born out of the work of its sister organisation, Pump Aid, a UK charity that has been working in Sub-Saharan Africa for 25 years. Successful pilot programmes trained ambitious entrepreneurs to develop the technical and business skills to grow a small-scale business in waterpoint maintenance and the sale of low-cost water pumps. The programme promotes opportunities for Malawian women, who are often overlooked for professional roles.
Joanna Jarjue, Pump Aid ambassador and BBC The Apprentice 2017 finalist, commented: “As an ambassador for the charity, the first thing that stood out about Pump Aid is they provide ‘enterprise, not aid’, which instantly creates a level of long-term sustainability from the assistance given that can stand the test of time.
“Primarily, there is the crucial focus on ending water poverty in Malawi; but what makes the charity even more special to me is that the Water Entrepreneurs Programme, for example, spills over into bettering social mobility in communities, creates financial independence for women, all while breaking a barrier in a traditionally male occupation of a Pump Engineer.”
With the backing of local government, the approach is taking off and Beyond Water are reaching more communities with their innovative solution to water poverty. Whilst the goal is financial self-sufficiency, the service must be subsidised to make it affordable for customers.
Pump Aid – Beyond Water works with partners and donors to ensure water keeps flowing, if you’re inspired by their work and would like to find out more, visit pumpaid.org or email email@example.com