Thursday, 1 August 2013

Water Pumps and Fuel Efficient Stoves

Having travelled back up to Lilongwe with Penny George (Scottish Government) on Saturday, I had Sunday to catch up with emails and plan for the week ahead.  

On Monday I met with Blessings, the CEDP Development Officer for the central region. We spent Monday talking through what Blessings has done to date and confirming what the priorities will be between now and September. Over the next few months, all of the DOs will be involved in intensive training programmes with each of the Community Based Organisations (CBOs) which they are working with ahead of applications for project funding being submitted and projects being installed October/November time. It’s been so interesting being able to talk through the training programmes with the Development Officers and getting a sense for what training is required by communities in Malawi

With Kiyembe CBO
On Tuesday Blessings and I went to visit a CBO called Kiyembe in the village of Nkanakufa, Dowa District.  When Blessings conducted a needs assessment with this community, the community identified reliable access to clean water as a top priority for their community. Whilst neighbouring villages have clean, closed system bore hole wells, this community collects water from a number of traditional wells.

Members of the community next to their primary water source. Local livestock also drink from this pool.

A traditional well in the community.
Water drawn from these sources is of poor quality. When Blessings asked residents how many people within their family had suffered sickness during the past 2 weeks, over 80% of people answered that somebody in their family had had diarrhoeal disease within the last 2 weeks. With such a high incidence of disease in the community, people frequently have to take time off from work to recover, something which many Malawian families cannot afford to do. 

Debris fallen into the well - the wells are open system so are often contaminated.

Drawing water from a well in the community.
For this community, the proposed project is a solar powered water pumping facility. When asked what the community hopes to gain from this project, there was unanimous agreement that the community wanted safe drinking water and that having a clean water source within the community would mean a reduced incidence of water borne diseases and less distance to travel to access safe water.
After discussing the water supply for the community we went for lunch at the Chairperson of the CBO’s house and then went on to see some fuel efficient stoves. Within this community (and the wider region), tobacco growing is one of the principle sources of employment and members of a local tobacco farming group have been given fuel efficient cook stoves by tobacco processors. These improved stoves have proved themselves to be highly effective and so many other households have expressed an interest in the stoves.

Central region Development Officer, Blessings, with the Chairperson of Kiyembe CBO and his family.
These stoves are of the same model which are being made by Concern Universal, one of the Strategic Energy Partners of MREAP. Penny and I visited one of the sites where the fuel efficient stoves are being produced in Balaka district and we were both quite disappointed that we couldn’t find a way to get one home!

One of the improved cookstoves next to a traditional 3 stone fire used my most Malawian households. 
Concern Universal improved cook stove producer group at Phalula, Balaka District

The cook stoves being made at Phalula, the producers are having trouble keeping up with demand!
There are numerous benefits to using one of these stoves. They use significantly less wood which is of huge benefit in a country which is battling deforestation. They also produce less smoke which produces a healthier cooking environment, due to their heat retaining properties, they can be used to heat homes in cooler weather and using the stoves is far safer than having an open fire (which small children can easily fall into). There is the added social benefit that through using less wood, people don’t have to spend as much time collecting firewood which frees people up to engage in other (potential business) opportunities. All in all, there are multiple benefits to having a fuel efficient stove in your home, I'll have to come back with a bigger rucksack next time!

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