There's a major threat wreaking havoc on third world countries. Water-borne diseases festering in pools of unclean water kill more people per year than violence, including war. One of these deadly diseases is diarrhea, and because most people lack the proper treatment it has become the fifth leading cause of death in Malawi. And the younger generations are at an even greater risk. About 45% of water-borne disease-related death is in children under 5 years old.
Today, 650 million people lack daily access to safe drinking water and 2.3 billion people live without basic functional sanitation. In Africa alone, women spend 40 billion hours a year collecting contaminated water and are responsible for 72% of the water collected. Due to poor hygiene facilities, girls are forced to drop out of school during menstruation. The effects of unclean water goes far beyond health and sanitation, it also hinders quality of life as well as mental and physical growth.
Waiakea's non-profit partner, Pump Aid, has a mission to achieve lasting positive change in poor and disadvantaged communities by improving the quality, availability, and use of water and sanitation. They harness the power of community, local businesses, and partners in other sectors to provide access to affordable, innovative, and sustainable solutions.
While Pump Aid's core work is to improve access to safe, sustainable water for households in Malawi, they have expanded their programs and now go far beyond solely providing clean water.
Within the last couple years, they established programs to engage with communities and pre-schools to encourage and promote better hygiene. In 2018, they focused on advancing their mission to help people in these poor communities reach a point of self-reliance where they no longer needed ongoing support. They focused on supporting Malawians to address water poverty, food insecurity, and aid dependancy.
The fact of the matter is, access to clean water is so much more than a safe means of hydration.
Community-based childcare centers (CBCCs) are rural pre-schools for children under 5. There are over 9,000 CBCCs in Malawi, but less than 25% of these have access to safe water or basic sanitation. This exposes young children to water-borne diseases, who are most at risk and this becomes life-threatening. 90% of this is attributed to poor water, sanitation, and hygiene and is definitely avoidable. By installing safe water supplies, child-friendly toilets, and handwashing stations, children have a safe space to learn and thrive in school.
Pump Aid has decided to approach ending water poverty from a holistic angle. Their self-supply program focuses on increasing sustainability and resilience through entrepreneurship and choice. Now people can make improvements to their own water supplies without financial aid from charities or governments. This means more autonomy and development of skills, and less aid dependency.
Lastly, Pump Aid is now promoting cleaner cities by turning trash into cash! Malawi's current urban settlements have limited access to solid waste management due to the lack of resources, poor access to transport, and collection service refusal. This has an impact on hygiene and living conditions, so Pump Aid works to rebuild access to clean water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH). They collaborate with local partners to mobilize entrepreneurs to improve their livelihoods, implement solid waste management, and the sale of compost and WASH-related goods.
Within the last couple years, Pump Aid's impact has grown from just installing their well-known Elephant Pump, to implementing life-changing programs to empower Malawians and go beyond just clean water.
Rather than providing Malawians a short-term fix, Pump Aid has made great strides to provide them with valuable tools and services to maintain a healthy and sustainable life. In 2018, Pump Aid added 35 new entrepreneurs to their program and expanded into a second district in Malawi! They are aiming to transform at least 150,000 lives by 2021 by making water supplies more convenient and reliable for consumption. The next time you receive your case of Waiakea water, remember you're not only providing yourself and your family with clean water, you're giving these communities access to opportunities, improved sanitation, and a healthier way of life.