By Wonder Msiska:
The borehole, elsewhere a symbol of poverty, is to subjects of Village Head Mndozi, Traditional Authority Kabudula in Lilongwe, very much a symbol of progress.
For 12 years, 46-year-old Monica Mandele and other villagers have had no access to potable water, a problem that arose after the village’s only borehole broke down.
“We have been sharing water for domestic use— such as washing, bathing and drinking— with cattle, goals and sheep, which is far from an ideal situation,” Mandele, two children in tow, says.
To make matters worse, Mndozi’s subjects had to cover long distances to get to open water sources, another source of headache for people who have been independent since 1964.
But, just when everyone was about to give up on prospects of positive change, a Good Samaritan came from the blues to make people’s faces shine again.
“I could not believe my eyes,” Mndozi submits.
The traditional leader is referring to the appearance of people from Pacific Boreholes Rehabilitation Project in the village. This happened in 2015 when officials from Pacific Boreholes Rehabilitation Project set their eyes on Mndozi Village and surrounding areas.
According to Pacific Boreholes Rehabilitation Project Team Leader James Nsusa, they had been working in other constituencies when they felt the need to reach out to Mndozi’s subjects. The village is in Lilongwe North Constituency, currently being represented in the august House by Monica Chayang’anamuno.
“Our plan is to repair all broken boreholes in all constituencies in Malawi. It is our wish that people from all walks of life would have access to clean water. Gone are the days when people used to drink from streams or shallow wells due to lack of amenities such as boreholes.
“Sometimes, this happens when a borehole breaks down, leaving people destitute. We want to bring such cases to an end,” Nsusa says.
So far, 3,000 boreholes have been rehabilitated in the country since 2015.
Nsusa says, on average, it costs between K150,000 and K250,000 to rehabilitate a borehole, depending on the extent of the damage.
“We have spent about K475 million on rehabilitation works in the past five years. On average, we spend about K9 million a month on spares and logistics.
“We also give beneficiaries 50 kilogrammes of cement during construction so that women and children should not be bending down when using boreholes. We want to promote good posturing,” he says.
Nsusa says they work hand-in-hand with borehole committees, constituency development committees and village development committees.
“We also offer them vegetable seeds for farming. Committee members use proceeds from farming to take care of boreholes. The funds act as a starter-pack, which is necessary in case boreholes require repairs,” Nsusa said.
One of the beneficiaries is Mzimba West Constituency legislator Billy Kaunda, in whose constituency 75 boreholes have been rehabilitated.
“Pacific Limited has done a very commendable job in my constituency. The team is still rehabilitating boreholes. I am sure that at least 100 boreholes will be done by the end of the project since my constituency is one of the biggest constituencies in Malawi and has about 400 boreholes in total but it still needs more.
“Communities are now drinking safe water, with Pacific Limited making 60 percent of the contribution and the MP contributing 40 percent in terms of food, transport and accommodation for the Pacific team doing the rehabilitation work. We need more companies in Malawi to emulate the example of Pacific Limited,” Kaunda says.
According to Water for People— which is implementing a Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) project in Chikwawa District, 65 percent of people in Chikwawa have access to potable water and sanitation services.
Data accessed from Pump Aid estimates that roughly 2.4 million people living in rural Malawi have access to a source of safe water but the actual number may be twice as high, largely due to non-functional water points and a rapidly growing population.
The population of Malawi stands at around 17.2 million and continues to rise, with 12.7 percent of the population lacking access to improved water sources, 69 percent without treated drinking water and nearly half (47.7 percent) of rural populations having to travel 30 minutes or more to obtain their drinking water.
The fact that nearly 60 percent of Malawians are subsistence farmers, and a further 20 percent are small-scale farmers, increases their vulnerability to water-borne diseases.
A latest United Nations Children’s Fund report indicates that water-borne diseases such as diarrhoea are the second biggest killer of children under-five years in Malawi, making the need for more clean and safe water among millions of people in Malawi a priority.
Poor quality water can have serious health implications including the increased prevalence of water-borne diseases such as cholera, typhoid, and dysentery including higher rates of child mortality and greater chances of infection among mothers and new-borns.
Pacific limited came in to help the government in its efforts to provide clean, safe, potable water to the populace by venturing into the borehole rehabilitation project as one way of its corporate social responsibility.
Currently the teams are in Mzimba West and Lilongwe Msozi constituencies.
It is their way of making life better, one borehole at a time.