Water warriors in Malawi

Posted on May 24, 2018

Elida's water point committeeIn some villages in Malawi, women and girls are walking up to 7km to find water. They have less time to spend on work, study and other activities. They are also at risk of encountering violence on the way.

Women in charge

In Malawi, our water projects focus on gender equality. Since women are usually the ones responsible for fetching water, women must be the ones making decisions about it.

After installing water points in Phalombe District, we encouraged women to take leadership positions on their water point committees. This way, they could take charge of their most important resource.

In Elida’s village, 7 of 10 members of the water point committee are female. All the leadership positions – Chair, Vice Chair, Secretary and Treasurer – are occupied by women.

Elida’s new job

Elida was elected Chair of her committee, which is responsible maintaining and repairing water points. Working with our partner, United Purpose, we trained women in leadership and management.

“It was from the training that we learned that women can also take up leadership positions,” said Elida. “We [the committee] chose more women since they are the ones who go to fetch water.”

At first, Elida thought her decisions would be overthrown by the men, and that she would have little influence. However, with training, she gained confidence and is now a strong leader.

“We respect Elida and give her all the necessary support in the committee as our chairperson,” said James, a committee member.

Water in the bank

To ensure they could pay for any major repairs needed, the committee formed a Village Savings and Loans group. The whole community benefits from this shared bank.

Elida and her committee now plan to use nearby Jatropha trees to make soap so they can improve community hygiene.

“We no longer wait for men to tell us what to do,” said Judith, Treasurer of the committee. “We make the decisions on our own.”

Want to help more women take charge of their water? Give a tax-deductible gift to our Africa Water Appeal by 30 June.