Information sources related to Malawi
I am an experienced UK civil engineer about to visit South West Malawi for the first time and am looking for sources of info on water sources (wells etc.) and sanitation provision which may be useful. My hosts have just informed me that they are looking at "drilling" a borehole so any advice on pitfalls to avoid or "must do" would be really helpful.
A lot will depend on what part of the country. I taught a national crew on hand pump repair in the north a few years ago, Embangweni area. Most villages in that area had at least 1 or 2 machine drilled wells with Afri-Dev hand pumps, so water table there was typically within 30 meters of surface. (I've probably got records somewhere, this is quick off top of memory). There were also a number of hand turned "Elephant" pumps on larger hand dug type wells (~1.5 M dia.) and a numbers of Malawi made MkIV pumps (direct action with PVC cylinder parts and welded G.I pipe parts aboveground). Hospital there used simple gravity powered system with elevated poly tanks on brick cruciform stands about 6 M tall.
If you provide more details of the area of interest, I'm sure others will have details for that area.
I think the biggest pitfall or potential mistake for any organisation which attempts to improve people's access to water is the assumption that by constructing an engineered or improved water point, the job is done. That's the easy bit, both financially and technically, and the hardest is yet to come. How will that new water point be managed in future? How will repairs be financed, and by whom? And in answering such "sustainability" questions, how to avoid being taken in by unrealistic assurances about "community management" and water user commitments to fund repairs and maintenance. Have a look at WaterAid's Sustainability Framework to understand more ...
Concerning this particular topic about maintenance, Inter Aide and partners developed a network of independant Hand pump technicians and spare parts shops, paid by the communities. These technicians are providing services for water committees of repairs for Afridev (80% of the pumps in Malawi) and Malda pumps, as well as preventative maintenance. Actually it's covering half of the country, Mchinji included. You can contact the Water Department to have more details. You can have a look at our dedicated website http://www.interaide.org/watsan/malawi/
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