Malawi’s capital, Lilongwe and second largest city Blantyre are growing rapidly, with the UN predicting that the urban population of these two cities will more than double between 2010 and 2025. However, city councils are unable to provide safe water, sanitation and waste collection.
Rapid urban development, open defecation and illegal waste dumping has polluted water sources. As a consequence, the use of unsafe water has caused high levels of water borne disease, malnutrition and infant mortality.
Supported by Comic Relief, Pump Aid is working with small scale entrepreneurs in Lilongwe and Blantyre to sell water filters, sanitation products and waste collection services. We have trained over 20 social entrepreneurs, helping them to market products and to explain the importance of safe water and improved hygiene. Through this small business approach we have found that contrary to common belief, poor people are willing and able to pay for and engage with these vital services.
As well as training entrepreneurs we are also recruiting 54 waste pickers to recycle collected waste. Over 70% of waste is vegetable matter which waste pickers can convert into compost. This compost is then sold and used to improve the quality of soil used to grow crops and vegetables, thereby creating an economic benefit as well as improving food quality. The waste pickers will also help improve the quality of public toilets, which are rarely used because of their poor state.
We believe that creating local businesses which deliver water and sanitation services is a great solution to address rapid development when there is limited government resources in place. We aim to reach 125,000 people with safe water and improved sanitation through this project.
Working with small businesses creates a virtuous circle where access to safe water and sanitation generates jobs and income, which in turn ensures that the access to safe water and sanitation is maintained. This has the potential of giving some of the poorest people in the world the opportunity to work themselves out of poverty.
To read more about our urban project please visit the page here.