Water, Sanitation + Hygiene

Water system brings peace and better healthcare in Lupembe, Malawi

At Lupembe Health Centre in Malawi‘s Lupembe-Mlare sponsorship community, medical staff and community members were stuck in a longstanding struggle over a scarce but necessary resource: water.

A single borehole serviced the entire area—so medical staff found themselves competing with residents when trying to draw water for the health centre.

Tensions led to grudges and quarreling. Health staff faced growing pressure trying to simultaneously draw water for patient care while treating infections caused by the unclean water. The hospital's maternity ward was hit the hardest. At some points, trying to prioritize children’s healthcare, the hospital shifted the burden of drawing water to the parents and guardians themselves.

“It became extremely difficult to address certain illnesses and medical emergencies because of water shortages, which slowed down the provision of prompt medical care,” explains Rodgers, a medical assistant at the clinic.

Eventually, even hiring new staff became a challenge as word of the situation spread across the district.

The hospital administration petitioned health authorities for assistance, but little progress was made. So both medical staff and residents were relieved when a mechanized pumped water project finally took shape, with World Vision’s support.

A tall water storage structure outside in the middle of a grass field.  
The water storage tanks at Lupembe Health Centre. The new system has allowed widespread access to water and brought peace to the community.

Now, a towering water reservoir powered by solar energy pumps and distributes water to three kiosks in different directions, stretching about 100 metres. With four taps at each kiosk, the health centre is well served and the community has wide-spread access to water—more than 280 children from 81 families are currently benefiting.

“Previously, we were only allowed to draw one pail [from] the single borehole. This increased tensions and affected many households, especially school-going children who were always late for classes,” says Mahena, chairperson of the water committee that oversees maintenance of the water point. “Now we can draw as many pails as we need and there are no more fights among the people when drawing water.”