Malawi Pump Aid Water Pump Blog
The village pump

A Meeting with the Village Chief

Posted on: July 26, 2017
Tagged with:

By Henderson Kadammanja
It’s July and the signs of winter can’t go unnoticed. It is late in the afternoon and the sun can be seen receding through the patches of clouds giving its last solace of warmth for the day as the evening cold winter breeze is slowly creeping in. I’m with Joseph Kaputa, a man who is not just an ordinary man but also the chief for Chibanga village.

As the chief, Joseph usually has a busy schedule. ‘You know, I have to make sure that am always around for my people so that I can hear their cases and at the same time I have to find time for my personal business like farming and taking care of my home and grandchildren,’ explained Joseph.

He has 10 children and more than a dozen grandchildren. All his children are married and he stays with his wife Elena and 4 grandchildren. Though he is 60, Joseph is very active and does a lot of activities around their home himself. Today he had been busy building his new bathroom. ‘The essence of these sanitary facilities cannot be overemphasised. Though we have been having them around as a tradition, we have finally learnt from you (Pump Aid) on the importance of these facilities for a healthy lifestyle’.

I like Chibanga village. It is lucky in many ways as it has rich and fertile lands which help the community to have successful harvests. But more importantly, under the leadership of Joseph, there is a strong sense of community. Families often pool their additional crops to ensure no-one in the village goes hungry, and some spare money is gathered into a community fund in case there is a need for it.

The Chief and his vegetable garden

It has been more than 1 year since the installation of the elephant pump in Chibanga village. According to the chief, the pump is a source of joy and pride to the village. ‘Oh boy we had a big crisis in respect to water supply. Am not only talking about diarrhoeal diseases here but also the distance which we had to travel to fetch water. We are so grateful for this pump.’ He explained that they used to walk up to around 3 kilometres in search for clean and safe water because the surrounding water sources were unsafe.

Chibanga village has a special committee that manages the affairs around the pump such as governance, operation and maintenance. ‘We are so grateful for this training because we are able to fix the pump problems ourselves otherwise we could have been spending a lot of money on fixing the pump or the pump could have been non-functional by now,’ said the chief.

Chief showing off his new bathroom

The secret of Chibanga village in ensuring the sustainability of the pump lies in its unity. Since they are able to work together as a community, they can raise money to support extra maintenance costs of the pump. Currently, they have 35,000 Kwacha (£36) which is enough for at least 2 new sets of rope and washers.

Looking at the chief, his village and his people, it’s obvious how much clean water is important to them. They are now able to understand the connection between WASH and diarrhoeal diseases and are even building their own sanitation and hygiene facilities. ‘It’s not that we didn’t know anything about these sanitation and hygiene issues before, but it’s just that Pump Aid has energised us to carry on and make sure that sanitation and hygiene practices are routine to our daily lives,’ remarked the chief.

Sign up to our monthly e-newsletter for more stories like Joseph’s and find out more about how our work has changed lives by reading more of our blogs.