Accountability in practice:
Chimswera communities unite in campaign for clean and safe water.
Chrissy Ngulube of Chimswera Village in Rumphi District counts herself lucky for surviving the deadly Cholera disease earlier in the month of November. The 44-year-old Ngulube believes that, if she did not seek treatment in good time, she would be part of 274 lives lost to the disease so far across the country.
“My rushing to Bolero Health Centre followed series of sensitization campaigns by Chikulamayembe Women Forum on the signs and symptoms of Cholera and the need to seek early treatment,” recounts Ngulube.
Chikulamayembe Women Forum is a Rumphi-based ActionAid Malawi partner that implements various interventions towards the attainment of social justice. Since the outbreak of Cholera in March this year, the local organisation, with financial support from ActionAid under the International Humanitarian Action and Resilience Team (IHART) has been running sensitization campaigns and building the capacity of communities in various impact areas, including Chimswera Village, where Ngulube lives.
Ngulube’s successful treatment and recovery from disease, however, left her wary of another possible Cholera attack. Her fear emanated from lack of clean and safe water in her area where over 30 households resort to the nearby dirty Lunyina River to draw water for domestic use, including dinking.
According to Malawi Ministry of Health, the major factors associated with the Cholera outbreak in the communities are poor food hygiene, lack of safe water and low latrine coverage and usage.
Looking at the danger Lunyina River poses with regards to the Cholera outbreak, Chimswera women with support from Chikulamayembe Women Forum launched a campaign to demand clean and safe water from the Rumphi District Council. The Council liased with the Northern Region Water Board that installed the water tap in the area mid-November, this year
The development turned into a huge relief for Ngulube and 30 households of Chimswera who are no longer drinking unsafe water from the contaminated Lunyina River.
“Clean and Safe water is no longer an issue now and since we started using the water from the kiosk installed by the Water Board, there is no single Cholera case reported from our area,” remarks a visibly relieved Ngulube, a mother of five.
Grace Phiri, leader of the newly elected Chimswera Waters Users Committee, says households in the area are now getting united in contributing money to pay for the water bill every month.
“We have lost three lives to Cholera in our area, so we don’t want to lose more lives. We will ensure that we take care of this water kiosk. We contribute about K10, 000 every month for the water bill here and we find the amount affordable, considering that there are over 30 households benefiting from the kiosk. We no longer want to be associated with Cholera cases here,” says Phiri.