Malawi is one of the least developed countries in the world and more than 62% of Malawians live below the poverty line.
In three large districts in central and southern Malawi, AG Care is working with thousands of families to enable them to build their own toilet, and have access to safe drinking water.
Toilet Twinning’s local partner, AG Care, is mobilising community organisations and churches in Salima, Balaka and Mchinji districts to empower the poorest and most vulnerable and marginalised families to identify and address the root causes of their poverty.
Who’s being helped
Without toilets, families in Salima, Balaka and Mchinji districts are exposed to dysentery, trachoma, typhoid, bilharzia and cholera. With sickness and diarrhoea rife in these areas, children are unable to complete their education, and families are trapped in poverty with ill health leading to lower productivity as families cannot spend sufficient time working their fields.
Moreover, in Salima, the sanitation issues are compounded by frequent floods that mean latrines made out of weaker materials (because families could not afford to build them with more substantial materials) collapse, and this can lead to contamination of local water sources.
The five key priority areas identified in these districts are:
- Improving rural livelihoods
- Water and sanitation
- Reducing vulnerability to disasters such as drought, floods and earthquakes
- Environment and the management of natural resources
- HIV and AIDS prevention
Fourteen-year-old Ireen knows only too well that it’s hard to do well in school when you miss at least one week every month.
AG Care is providing schools with toilets and changing rooms for girls. At Chikuluti primary school in Salima, girls now have a changing room with water, soap and a mirror – for use during their periods.
“I had to repeat a year of school because of monthly absenteeism due to my periods”, says Ireen. But not any more. Now, she enjoys school, and she’s one of the top students in her class. “I was poorly performing before but now I can clean up and get back to class straight away. I have passed all my subjects,” she says, pointing proudly to the weekly published results in the corridor.
Five months on from the building of the new block, the school’s matron Chifundo Chilala says the number of girls missing school had “drastically reduced”.