In Malawi, access to education is key to improving the life chances of children. Recognising this, the Government of Malawi is promoting the roll out of Community Based Childcare Centres (CBCCs). These are nursery schools designed for 3 to 5 year olds. They aim to improve childhood survival, support healthy growth and prepare children for primary school. So far there are over 9,000 CBCCs supported by government and NGOs. However, many of these essential centres are nothing more than a shell. Pump Aid and its local partners are working to improve the facilities of these CBCCs to make them safe and healthy places where children can thrive.
In our project areas, at least 75% of these centres do not have adequate access to clean water, or safe and hygienic latrines. This means that children are at high risk of developing diseases such as diarrhoea, which is a leading cause of under 5 mortality, killing more than 4,500 children in Malawi every year. Access to safe water and hygienic latrines can reduce mortality rates by up to 90%. Children, especially girls are the main water collectors. They often have to travel long distances to visit contaminated water sources such as open wells or rivers. As well as the obvious health risks the time spent collecting water reduces the time available for education.
Many of our partners provide feeding programmes to the CBCCs. Ensuring children get at least one nutritious meal a day reduces rates of stunting (a common consequence of malnutrition) and actually encourages children to attend the CBCC. However, without clean water and safe toilets to use, children fall ill. Some will die. Parents will need to spend precious funds on treatment and the children miss out of vital early education.
In a country where 53% of children do not finish their primary education, ensuring that CBCCs are utilised is an absolute priority if the cycle of poverty and dependency is to be broken.
What we do:
Our aim is simple.
- Ensure children have access to safe water.
- Ensure from the earliest possible age, children develop healthy and hygienic practices for both drinking water and toilet use.
We encourage better hygiene and sanitation practices in CBCCs through skilled community facilitation with the children, caregivers and parents. Well before pump installation, we partner with CBCCs to assess their needs, making sure pumps are situated for maximum benefit to users. We train caregivers and parents in pump maintenance and repair. We help the CBCC to improve sanitation practices, by building appropriate toilets and carrying out interactive learning sessions to help young children understand the importance of improving their hygiene behaviours. This helps reduce and ultimately end open defecation practices and enables children to live healthy and fulfilling lives. We also work with caregivers to set up kitchen gardens to provide food to feed children at CBCCs. As well as working with the CBCC, we work with the surrounding community to help improve sanitation and hygiene behaviour. The CBCC equips caregivers and mothers with the knowledge and practice of good hygiene and sanitation to share with others to make a lasting impact. Click here to watch a video of the children at Mpunga pre-school singing about washing hands.