The current situation in Malawi is a gender divide. In the previous decade, the Millennial Developmental goals (MDGs) failed to recognise the intersection between gender and poverty.
Hi, I’m Sabina and I’m currently volunteering at Pump Aid while studying International Development at university. I found the relationship between the MDGs and the risks to women and girls of particular interest.
In Malawi, due to customary laws and patriarchal norms, women and girls have less opportunities in health, education, employment and credit accessibility. Thus, an increase in vulnerability and dependency on men. Due to being deprived of an education and political participation, women’s chances of escaping poverty are hindered as many are unaware of their rights (WSLA). Resulting in, the feminisation of poverty, and women being disproportionately effected in the major areas that limit their ability to escape poverty.
For example, many girls do not go to school as they are expected to take care of domestic responsibilities such as providing water for their families. Often girls and women travel far from home to collect water, which poses risks such as being exposed to violence and harassment.
(Above: Maria Phiri, one of Pump Aid’s Area Mechanics)
In the areas we work women have a say in where water points are located and this empowers them by becoming integrated leaders in their communities.
This enables women to have a positive impact on the social and economic standpoint in their communities. Having access to water on a local level promotes a sense of security and enables girls to go to school which is vital for exiting the poverty cycle.
Pump Aid’s Urban Development programme, has enabled communities to support themselves through local social entrepreneurship – training locals on how to maintain pumps as well as selling water related products to help promote improved hygiene and waste collection standards. This programme has helped create stable jobs which can be seen here.
Our self-supply programme has helped many farmers such as Juliana, sustain her agricultural business – by educating communities on maintenance and the benefits of the pumps. Before pumps were installed in her village Mphamba, she said that many workers were infected with diarrhoea and there were conflicts between neighbours due to water shortages.
After the installation of the pumps, her workers were more healthy and productive and conflicts dissolved.
Not only has water sanitation enabled productivity and sustainability in communities, but it also has enabled children to go to school and enabling women like Maria being ensured that she can raise her future children in a cleaner and safer environment and go back into education!
Our self-supply pilot (2014-16) also enabled women such as Maria Phiri to become entrepreneurs and mechanics.This encourages empowerment in women as they are in control of their own income and can do for themselves.
Local entrepreneurs create more jobs and allow communities to maintain their pumps independently whilst support the local economy.
Now communities no longer need to rely on outside sources to help them access and maintain safe and clean water!