Malawi’s water and sanitation project wins Prince Talal International Prize

ATR water and sanitationAn African Development Bank (AfDB)-financed and supervised water and sanitation project, now helping to curb the spread of COVID-19 in Malawi, has won the prestigious Prince Talal International Prize for Human Development

The Integrated Urban Water and Sanitation Project for Mzimba Town project is co-financed by the OPEC Fund for International Development and the Malawian government.

“This prestigious award is especially relevant to current global efforts to contain the COVID-19 pandemic and the urgent need for enhanced hygiene practices,” said Dr Akinwumi Adesina, president of the AfDB.

The Arab Gulf Program for Development’s Prize Committee announced the winners in the water and sanitation services category for 2019 at a virtual meeting last week.

The prize money of US$200,000 will go to a project implemented by government agencies, public institutions or social businesses approved by the Mzimba Town scheme.

The major works were completed 12 months ahead of the December 2020 completion date. It has increased the community’s access to potable water from 65 per cent to 95 per cent, raised access to improved sanitation from 45-97 per cent and created around 1,000 jobs.

Components of the project, including a community-led ‘Total Sanitation’ initiative, have helped to reduce diarrheal cases from 35 per cent to three per cent. Around 10 potable water kiosks were established in nearby rural villages, helping to curb attacks on women trekking for water, often at night.

“We used to collect drinking water from streams that were a two-hour walk away. It was unsafe and contributed to waterborne diseases,” said Maggie Hunga, vice-chairperson of the Hunga Communal Water Point.

It has safeguarded the education and security of young girls who no longer need to fetch water before school, she added.

The construction of primary school sanitation facilities, including secured toilets as part of the project, has provided privacy and comfort to the pupils, especially girls. At Mzimba Prison, authorities have reported a reduction in skin diseases due to potable water supply and improved hygiene practices.

“We provide access to potable water to 95 per cent of our customers, 22 hours a day,” said Tutus Mtegha, CEO of the Northern Region Water Board.

 

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