Access to water in Malawi that is safe for consumption, or convenient enough to increase productivity of small-scale farms is shockingly low. Standard aid responses have overwhelmingly failed. Our response has been to evaluate our approach and devise more sustainable ways to improve the lives and life chances of those most at risk of disease and malnutrition.
Our solution? To facilitate development of a functioning market where the onus is on small businesses and individuals to improve their own well-being and livelihoods. The key to the success of our hugely successful Beyond Water self-supply project has been understanding and utilising the overwhelming strengths of the people in our pilot areas, local entrepreneurs who have been largely overlooked, with the potential to create lasting, positive change for themselves and their local communities.
By Implementing commercial principles and treating people as potential customers rather than recipients of aid, we have brought about transformational change, keeping every penny investing within Malawi, working for the communities with no subsidies.
We caught up with Chifumu Kapereke, a 51 year old well-digger from Chinyanga Village in Kasungu district, who we spoke to in 2017. He earns a living through digging and lining wells, alongside small-scale farming. Although he has many experience digging wells, he says that since he’s been involved with the Beyond Water training accelerator he has seen a massive improvement in his business acumen and ability to expand his skillset.
‘Before I joined the programme with the other entrepreneurs I was building lower quality wells, I learned this technique from a friend, who suggested that I start. Unfortunately these wells sometimes collapsed, were built in the wrong place so were not deep enough, or were too close to toilets making them unsafe to use for drinking water.’
‘Now I have a much better idea where to place wells, and how to build them better, which makes my customers happy, and means the wells last a very long time. I have now grown this business with a small team, with help from Beyond Water I have support with managing them, training them and making my business more productive.’
‘I am not receiving aid, I did this myself with some help and guidance. Now my task is to educate my local communities and explain to them that investing in their own water is much better for the community. I will keep their water flowing, and in return I can grow my business and employ and train people to work with me.’