Students with disabilities commonly face barriers when accessing water and using sanitation and hygiene facilities at school. International frameworks have prompted governments to enact local policies that enshrine these rights, guarantee equitable access to education and mandate inclusive infrastructure. This research was designed to explore whether Malawi has translated good policies into practice. Data were gathered in Rumphi district, Malawi, through structured field observations in ten schools and interviews with students with a disability (n = 23), teachers (n = 11) and government stakeholders (n = 2). No school had facilities that fully meet the needs of students with disabilities, and private schools were not necessarily better. The cost of bringing existing infrastructure up to standard was on average MK54 000 (US$78). However, proactive consultation with children with a disability is likely to generate alternative low-cost short-term solutions. Increased government support, budgeting and enforcement is necessary to ensure international standards and national policies are met. | »
Greywater reuse has potential for non-potable applications that conserve freshwater resources in water-stressed areas especially in sub-Saharan Africa. The feasibility of reusing greywater for domestic activities in a rural area of Malawi, Africa, was evaluated from microbiological and public acceptance perspectives. Median Escherichia coli concentrations for eight domestic greywater sources (handwashing, laundry, runoff from a tap apron, bathing, cleaning a home/kitchen, cleaning a water collection container, washing plates and soaking vegetables) ranged from 100 to >20,000 colony forming units (cfu)/100 ml. Twenty-four of 47 greywater samples tested (51%) met the World Health Organization guideline for unrestricted use of greywater for irrigation. Pertinently, 80% (4/5) and 60% (3/5) of greywater samples from handwashing stations and bathing had E. coli less than the WHO guideline. Users reported greatest acceptance of reusing greywater for growing food and washing clothes, especially when the greywater source was bathing. Acceptance was closely tied to a household's economic standing, geographic location, and first-hand knowledge of reusing greywater. Greywater reuse practices in rural areas, especially targeting bathing water as suitable from bacteriological and user perception criteria, can help mitigate the impacts of water stress in sub-Saharan Africa. | »
In 2013, our team performed a program evaluation of the sustainability and water quality of 338 Elephant Pumps in Malawi. The team tested the water quality, evaluated the pump functionality and investigated the community's satisfaction. The water in most samples (68%) conformed to the Malawi Government drinking water standard for Escherichia coli. Likewise, the nitrate concentrations were within both the Malawi Government and the WHO established standards. The functionality of the Elephant Pumps was 78% (producing water), which is comparable to the functionality rate of hand pumps in Sub-Saharan Africa, which is posited as 64%. Pumps that are working well tend to have the lowest (significantly) E. coli contamination levels. The majority of the households use the water for common household activities; however, water was also used for irrigation and commercial purposes in a limited number of cases. Ninety one percent of the respondents reported that they were very satisfied with the pump design. Although most Elephant Pumps produce water that conforms to the standards by the Malawi Government and with above average functionality, no perfect pump design exists. The performance of Elephant Pumps can still be improved through better training of area mechanics and community pump caretakers, and the availability of improved networks for spare parts. | »
• Access to groundwater impacts the three life-domains: Being, Belonging and Becoming.
• Disconnect between water quality and individuals perception of safe drinking water.
• Communities stressed clean water, sanitation and hospitals as top health needs.
• High level of toilet sharing, also impacted by environmental issues.
• Imagination exercise reveals desire of male respondents for a greener village.
The implications of this study demonstrate, rural individuals ‘Being’, ‘Belonging’ and ‘Becoming’ need to be considered when addressing pressing public health needs, as Malawi works toward the Sustainable Development Goals for water supply. | »