Malawi Project Overview

EWB-UD aims to assist the region of Sakata in developing clean and easily accessible water sources through a long-term partnership. Water-borne illness is extremely prevalent in the communities within Sakata. Data from Villages in Partnership shows that nearly half of the population of Mphero and the surrounding villages of Chilimani, Liti, and Nkagula are under the age of fifteen, leaving more than one-third of the young villagers orphaned and often without direct adult support. This leads to impecunious living conditions and an inability to maintain or improve the physical infrastructure required for community growth and development. The most acute need of the villagers is for an improved water supply infrastructure–the people of Sakata consider potable water a primary and absolutely essential need. With water sources distant, it takes young girls hours to fetch water every day, which limits time to do tasks such as attending school or spending time with family. Unfortunately, when closer water sources, such as polluted rivers, are sought out, the incidence of illness increases dramatically. Children are forced to make impossible decisions–leave school, or face possibly fatal water-borne illnesses. 


To assess the needs of the community and determine the best way to help, EWB-UD conducted two assessment trips to the region, which gathered invaluable information that allowed us to, with the help of  practicing engineers and hydrogeologists as appropriate, design sustainable solutions to provide the region with improved access to clean water. During the August 2016 implementation trip, the Malawi Project Team oversaw the drilling and installation of a borehole well and hand pump within the village limits of Mphero, no longer requiring the community to walk extremely far distances and have to pay the neighboring village for water access.  EWB-UD is also currently in the process of designing a full scale education program to help the community members adjust to the changes that the project implementation has brought about.


The implementation in Mphero is just the beginning of our partnership with the Sakata region of Malawi.  Immediately after assessing the success of our designs in Mphero, we began to consider the next steps we should take to assist the communities in the region. After reaching out to our other planned partners, we decided to next look at the needs of Chilimani, a larger community which also had seriously inadequate water access, with just a couple semi-productive wells to serve over a thousand village members. Here, we worked with the community members and advisors on hydrogeology, engineering, and international partnerships to assess the community’s needs and find best solutions available to meet them. Additionally, we began to work with Villages in Partnership (VIP), a local NGO focused on the development of communities in Malawi. In the summer of 2018, we set out to implement the project: in Mphero, we decided to drill two borehole wells and finish them with handpumps. This job turned out to be tougher than the last, and there were a couple boreholes that were drilled only to find no water – but with the quick thinking of the EWB team, the community, and our contractors, new drilling sites were identified, and Chilimani was equipped with two extremely productive wells.

In August 2019 the team visited Chilimani to check in on how the wells were holding up. We surveyed community members and obtained positive information. To date, there are no major maintenance issues to note, however the committees admitted to not performing regular maintenance on the handpumps. Therefore, the team re-emphasized the importance of routine maintenance while VIP spoke of setting up a refresher training session for the committees. 


Liti, Nkagula, and Beyond

As we continued to work with Chilimani to monitor the success of the borehole wells in meeting the community’s needs, the Malawi team reached out to a new set of partner communities: Liti and Nkagula. In August 2019, the team embarked on a successful assessment trip for Liti and Nkagula. The travel team was introduced to each community and learned the roles of key individuals within them (i.e. chief, water committee and implementation committee). We also identified the areas in each community that are in need of water sources as well as surveyed specific spots that are most likely to yield a sustainable water source.

The COVID-19 pandemic drastically changed our strategies, but did not stop our team from continuing our efforts.  In 2020, the Malawi Team prepared letters and a maintenance pamphlet in lieu of our summer travel. These materials were sent to VIP, which reached the community shortly after. Our maintenance pamphlet included useful information pertaining to maintaining the sanitation and functionality of borehole wells as well as guidance from EWB-USA to curb the spread of COVID-19. Over the summer, all communities were provided with free hand soap and handwashing stations were placed in gathering centers by existing NGOs and other community groups. Some NGOs were also able to provide a limited number of face coverings. 

In the fall of 2021, the Malawi team embarked on a remote implementation trip to complete borehole inspection and rehabilitation in Liti and Nkagula. Our team worked with in-country partners, VIP and Kibbutz Group, to inspect and rehabilitate 12 borehole wells in the communities, which was ultimately success! Additionally, maintenance training was conducted for community members to learn how to keep the wells functional for years to come.  For more details about our remote implantation, see our Travel Blog.

We look forward to continuing our partnership in the region by planning an assessment trip to the Zomba region in the summer of 2022! Throughout the semester, we will be conducting community surveys to gather information about future project priorities for the communities.

Travel Blog

Nkagula Drill Site

FALL MEETINGS MONDAY AT 6:00 PM ALISON HALL ROOM 221Today we woke up bright and early for a 7am start time at the Nkagula drill site. Kapitapa pulled out the 50m of drill rods and replaced them with casing.    We determined the placement of the slotted versus...

Liti Village Well Drilling

FALL MEETINGS MONDAY AT 6:00 PM ALISON HALL ROOM 221The team began the day drilling the first well in Liti Village. The community had cleared some trees and flattened the area around the drilling location to allow the drilling rig access to the site.Unfortunately...

Well Inspection and Borehole Committee Meeting

FALL MEETINGS MONDAY AT 6:00 PM ALISON HALL ROOM 221Moni! Today, the team visited Mphero, the site of our first wells drilled in 2016, to inspect a malfunctioning well that the community mentioned to us during our last meeting. We stopped at VIP’s field office to pick...

Khanda Health Clinic and Water Testing

FALL MEETINGS MONDAY AT 6:00 PM ALISON HALL ROOM 221 Today, we started our day visiting the new Khanda Health Clinic that VIP recently opened. The facility services over 8000 people and when fully staffed, will employ 69 people. There was a different room for each...

Drilling Plan and Community Surveys

SPRING MEETINGS WEDNESDAY AT 7:00 PM ALISON HALL ROOM 132 Today was our second day in the communities. We started off the day meeting with our driller. With VIP, we discussed the timeline for the drilling of the two boreholes, completing resistivity testing, and...

Photos from our 2021 remote implementation trip

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