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08 Sep
  • By Pump Aid

COMIC RELIEF URBAN WASH PROGRAMME

Recently Comic Relief visited our urban programme for the first time to see the sites and meet our entrepreneurs. Were pleased to share with you their feedback from their report.

Our Comic Relief supported urban programme began in September 2015 and encourages local entrepreneurs to develop waste disposal and recycling businesses and promote the sale of water filters and other water improvement products in the informal settlements around Blantyre and Lilongwe. Recently the Comic Relief team carried out an assessment of the programme and visited our Malawi head office, sites of the project and met the entrepreneurs and their customers.

This was the first time Comic Relief had seen our work on the ground and the visit could not have gone better.

In the cities of Lilongwe and Blantyre more than one million people (around 70% of their populations) live in informal settlements (slums), a figure that is set to double in the next ten years. But City Councils lack the resources to provide essential services such as safe water, effective sanitation and waste collection forcing people to look for alternatives. The use of unsafe water, open defecation and illegal dumping of waste are common; leading to high rates of water-borne disease, malnutrition and increasing infant mortality.

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The City Councils’ inability to invest in informal settlements will not change any time soon, they have neither the funds nor often the political will. But research carried out by Pump Aid demonstrates an ability and a willingness among people living in informal settlements to pay for safe water, hygienic sanitation and waste collection, overturning the myth that poor people are unable or unwilling to engage with services offered by the private sector.

The Comic Relief assessor was very pleased with what she saw and her report was very favourable, as this extract shows: “Overall, based on the meetings, document reviews and direct observations from the visit, the project is innovative (especially its business approach), much-needed and is well-managed by a competent and committed team at Pump Aid Malawi.

I was especially impressed by the Project Manager (Eva Phiri), she clearly knows the project inside-out, has good technical knowledge of the issues being addressed and understands the context in which the project is being delivered. She is also well-respected by partners and stakeholders. More broadly, Pump Aid Malawi is clearly a supportive partner to LUPPENAYISE and WASTE and the partners appear to work well together, support one another and address challenges in an open and collective manner.”

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Though almost three-quarters of the Malawian population live below the international poverty line, the residents of the informal settlements in and around Lilongwe and Blantyre are comparatively better off than those living in rural areas. Taken together with a lack of publicly funded infrastructure this means there is great demand for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) services and an ability to pay for them.

We are continuing to work closely with Blantyre and Lilongwe City Councils, so that they can provide ongoing support to this project and our entrepreneurs once Comic Reliefs involvement comes to an end.

To read more about this programme visit our project page here.

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