Reducing water-related disease
From April 2012 to March 2013, CPAR implemented the Reducing Water-Related Disease Prevalence through Safe Water and Improved Hygienic Practices project in Nkhotakota District, Malawi. The primary project activities included the construction of five boreholes, the establishment of Water Point Sub-Committees, providing community training and conducting awareness campaigns in five villages.
The availability of clean water can have an enormous impact on the health of a community. This positive health impact can be greatly enhanced by eliminating the practice of open defecation (in line with the “one household, one latrine” principle) while also improving hygiene practices among community members.
In partnership with Village Health Committees, formal and informal village information sessions and household visits were used to disseminate information about topics like proper water storage and the use of the two-cup system (a simple method to minimize the spread of disease by using one cup to scoop from the communal water supply and a separate cup to drink from). This was further bolstered by providing drying racks for dishes and constructing latrines.
Some featured results:
Through the implementation of these activities, CPAR achieved the project goal of reducing incidences of diarrheal disease among 1,053 people in the project’s targeted area. At the beginning of the project, 50 per cent of households within the five villages reported incidences of diarrheal diseases. By the end of the project, the incidents of illness were dramatically reduced with four households experiencing diarrhoea and no known cases of dysentery in the targeted project area.
The five villages now have access to reliable, clean and safe drinking water. Prior to the completion of the boreholes, 50 per cent of families in the village were obtaining their drinking water from unprotected wells or springs. The proximity of water to peoples’ homes also had a significant impact, especially for women – instead of spending an average of 30 minutes to collect water, people are now spending an average of eight minutes total.
According to one mother: “We used to walk for 30 minutes to fetch unsafe water which made us waste a lot of time, apart from getting us sick, but now safe water is very close and we spend our time doing important household chores. School children can get to school on time since there is clean water nearby.”