SOS Social Centre Lilongwe partners with various communities in the area surrounding the SOS Children's Village. These communities are generally peri-urban, and often lack facilities such as clean water and sewerage.
To access safe water, the women from these areas have to walk several kilometres. This means that they have less time for other daily household activities, as well as less time to care for young or sick members of their families.
The Mchitanjiru area is one such community. It includes the three small villages of Nsana, Chikungu and Santhe and has a population of approximately one thousand five hundred people.
The community lies about three kilometres from the main road, and is comprised of homesteads and the Mchitanjiru school. Many people in the community are terminally ill and are visited and tended by home-based community care groups. However, the lack of access to potable water was always a severe hindrance to the care that the groups could provide to their patients.
In addition to their ailments, which are frequently due to secondary infections of HIV/AIDS, the patients were suffering increased incidences of diarrhoea. Young children and babies living in the community were also falling sick because they were drinking from unprotected sources.
Three boreholes were planted to address the problem of lack of safe drinking water amongst Mchitanjiru communities some time ago. However, the communities soon had to spend a lot of money on the repair of these boreholes. The community would hire technicians to repair and maintain the boreholes, but the cost was unsustainable.
After deliberations between the SOS Social Centre co-workers and representatives from the villages, the community formed committees that could manage water and sanitation facilities in the individual villages. The SOS Social Centre facilitated community-based management training in water and sanitation as a sustainable means of improving the access to safe water for the community. During the training, committees were taught how to maintain the boreholes and carry out basic repairs on the existing boreholes.
The training has brought a sense of hope to the area. Since the beginning of the year, far fewer cases of diarrhoea have been reported. The long distances covered by women to fetch safe drinking water are now a thing of the past. It has also brought them a great sense of satisfaction to those involved in the teams.
The communities, through their own fund-raising activities, will be able to meet all costs and requirements at the water points without any further interventions from the SOS Social Centre.