For Elena Chiwala pumping water isn't a chore — not compared to what she and other women in Chiala, a village in the Mitundu area, used to have to do.
"We'd go along the streams, covering a long distance to fetch the day's water," says the woman who helped get a well with a pump in the center of the village. She is one of five women on a committee who worked with Evangelical Lutheran Development Program field staff to get the well built. A requirement for all ELDP projects is that the village determines what it needs and plans for maintenance.
The ELDP provided experts to drill the well and supervise villagers in the construction. Since fetching water traditionally is women's work, they keep up the well and pump and supervise use. Chiwala keeps the key and opens the pump station from 10 a.m. to noon and 2 to 4 p.m. Some 500 women draw water during those four hours. Not only does this well and pump save them time and toil, Chiwala says having clean water cuts down on much sickness in the village.
Since ELDP began work with Malawi villagers in 1998, it has provided funds and expertise to construct 500 wells, says the director, Elianwony Meena. The agency works out of nine regional sites throughout the country, with a staff of 76 targeting 20,000 households.
Another project the women pursue is making clay stoves, from collecting the mud from riverbanks to mixing it with cement and to molding it into the stove shape. This, too, makes their lives easier because the stoves retain heat and use only a third of the wood needed for an open fire. Food also cooks faster in the stoves. It's the women's job to fetch firewood, as well as prepare the meals. Another important benefit of using clay stoves, of course, is that it spares the cutting of trees for firewood.
© 2014 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers