As dawn breaks over the Mphamba village, some 200 workers leave their beds to start a hard day’s work on the farm, an essential part of sustaining village life by keeping their families, homes and income stable. Since October 2015 and the arrival of two rope and washer pumps, a period of productivity, stability and health has transformed the lives of the inhabitants of Mphamba.
When I met Juliana Matapira, she told me eagerly of the changes she had seen in her home. She is the Village head of the traditional authority in Mphamba, making the 200 tenants her responsibility. As she remembered life before the pumps, she shook her head slowly, recalling common cases of diarrhoea among her workers, and rows between neighbours. These would occur due to the limited water supply from the river, she told me, where households used to fetch water for their daily needs. The water was both unsafe and unsustainable, as one group of women would fetch water in the morning not leaving enough for the group that went in the afternoon, causing a personal dispute. During the dry season, when the river banks are at their shallowest, quarrels and fights were the order of the day.
Hearing these stories was almost unbelievable. My only experience of the people of Mphamba were as a friendly, close-knit community. Imagining that they got into rows as often as Juliana remembered seemed like a different world altogether. This improvement came about due to a Pump Aid trained mechanic visiting Juliana and explaining to her the benefits of having an elephant pump installed. Given the problems caused by the dirty and limited supply of river water, she was quickly convinced that it would be right to choice for Mphamaba. So she bought two.
“Healthy workers are productive people,” she said with a satisfied smile, and she was right. Since she bought the pumps, there have been no new cases of diarrhoea among her tenants, rows over water have been eliminated, and time spent fetching water is no longer a consideration for her workers. Since October 2015, there has been a remarkable increase in productivity from the farm, and as a result, happiness of the households and community as a whole.
This case study is written by one of our Field Workers in Malawi, from our Self-Supply Programme. You can read more about the programme through our Self-Supply page. To receive the latest updates and stories from our work in the field please sign up to our monthly Newsletter.