Malawi May Trip: Community Visits and WASH Training in 2024!

26 June, 2024 | Rebecca Barton
Categories: Carbon Offsetting, Central Africa, Climate Change, CO2balance, Malawi, Safe Water

In May this year, two CO2balance team members travelled to Malawi to visit the safe water projects we work on with our partner, Self Help Africa. It was a great time of year to visit central Malawi just after the rainy season, and we appreciated being able to accompany the field team in visiting the boreholes and meet with the communities who benefit from them.    

The sunset over the fields in Malawi
Malawi, May 2024

We have rehabilitated over 600 boreholes across safe water projects in Malawi, and new boreholes are continuously being rehabilitated. We randomly selected the boreholes to visit on this trip, so we covered quite a distance, auditing boreholes from the early days of the projects as well as some installed just a few months ago.   

Showing a functional borehole with fencing for protection from animals.

Self Help Africa have been implementing strategies to ensure that the boreholes are kept in good conditions and continue to be fully functional. We had the chance to attend a WASH (Water, Sanitation & Hygiene) training at one of the sites we visited; the team used this opportunity to also provide maintenance training to the community members. The WASH training took place in Chimbereko community, in Dowa and focused on contamination prevention activities, including highlighting the importance of sanitation and hygiene for prevention of infections from water-related diseases.  

The communities were shown how to service the borehole, by checking on the condition of the parts and carrying out simple repairs. Both men and women take part in this training, providing the communities with the skills needed to service their boreholes around every 3 months, replacing any parts that show signs of wear. This means that the boreholes are kept in very good condition, and it is less likely for a major repair to happen and take them by surprise. The communities are also encouraged to work with the area mechanics, who, when necessary, can carry out any repairs very quickly, so the boreholes are rarely unfunctional for any length of time if a breakdown does happen. 

WASH training in malawi safe water project at a borehole
Maintenance training being carried out alongside WASH training.

The trip was a great opportunity to observe monitoring activities and demonstrate a newly introduced test to the field team in person. This made us appreciate the benefits of being able to explain things in person and work with the field team to problem solve unexpected challenges. In general, monitoring activities are carried out biannually, annually or quarterly depending on the specific task, in line with Gold Standard requirements. These aim to ensure that the water provided remains safe, easily accessible and BHs are regularly repaired with accurate usage rate and end user numbers recorded.  

Over the last year, we’ve seen a lot of progress in streamlining workflows and improving communication channels with the team in Malawi. The team shared with us that they really appreciate where the partnership has progressed to and how positive feedback loops have become. The trip strengthened the collaborative work between the UK-based CO2balance and the Malawi-based Self Help Africa team. Overall, it was such a privilege to meet the communities and discuss the impact the project had on their everyday life. We were welcomed with open arms by every community we visited, and their welcoming nature was embraced through dancing and laughter. 

Find out more about this safe water project here.