SADC-Groundwater Management Institute changing lives in Chimbiya, Malawi
As surface water resources are increasingly dwindling as a result of the impacts of climate change, more and more people are turning to groundwater as their primary water source, which also places severe stress on available groundwater resources. Groundwater has proven to be generally more resilient to climate change as it is hidden and less susceptible to evaporation.
Currently the SADC-Groundwater Management Institute is implementing the Sustainable Groundwater Management in SADC Member States project, funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and Cooperation in International Waters in Africa (CIWA) through World Bank. Component D of the project speaks to “Promoting infrastructure solutions for sustainable groundwater management”. Through Component D, a sub-grant is awarded to SADC Member States to implement small pilot projects on groundwater infrastructure development.
Water scarcity affects more than 40 percent of people around the world, an alarming figure that is projected to increase with the rise of global temperatures as a result of climate change. Ensuring universal access to safe and affordable drinking water for all by 2030 requires that adequate investment is made towards water infrastructure at every level. The Chimbiya (Malawi) project is one of the initiatives implemented by the SADC-GMI in response to water challenges in the region.
The Chimbiya Community in Malawi has been experiencing challenges in accessing safe drinking water due to scanty rainfall also aggravated by climate change. Most affected are women and children who actually travel long distances to access safe drinking water and as the results are sometimes exposed to social ills. Water scarcity in Chimbiya has affected livelihoods of people living in the community, as they could not access enough water for domestic use and agriculture. The community says this project could be the answer to their prayers. The project is implemented by the Water Mission and the Malawi Ministry of Water with technical and financial support from SADC-GMI.
In addressing the water challenges in Chimbiya, a 100m deep borehole was drilled to supply ten communal-type water distribution points. In Malawi, borehole depths average is 45m, but this one has been drilled deeper in order to target deep aquifers and improve water availability from the fractured basement aquifer. The borehole is estimated to produce 35000 litres of water per day, and will provide clean water to an estimated 15000 people living in the area. The project is about 80% complete and according to Water mission, the community will be able to access clean water before the end of April 2019.
James Sauramba, SADC-GMI Executive Director commended Malawi for being the first country to successfully implement their pilot project. He also commended the country representatives for selecting the project that actually brings water directly to such a needy community as Chimbiya village. He also said lessons learned from the Malawi project will be taken forward to other countries in the region to ensure that we do not repeat the same mistakes going forward.
Marcus Wijnen from the World bank commended the Chimbiya community for their commitment to the project and highlighted that most projects succeed because of the community involvement and commitment to the project.
Sustainable Development Goal 6 puts emphasis on access to clean water for all by 2030 and SADC-Groundwater Management Institute is implementing such projects in support of attaining the targets of the Sustainable Development goals and Agenda 2063 Agenda by the United Nations.