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Malawi: Faith Leaders Promise to Sensitise Their Flock On Benefits of Malawi Water & Sanitation Project

After a series of engagements with various stakeholders on the implementation of Malawi Water & Sanitation Project (MWSP), Blantyre Water Board (BWB) and project implementing partners — Blantyre City Council and the Ministry of Water & Sanitation — dated religious leaders to enlighten them on its progress and its benefits.

Held at Sunbird Mount Soche in Blantyre, the faith leaders were taken through the objective of the project, which is to increase access to improved water supply and sanitation services in Blantyre and sorrounding districts as well as to enhance BWB’s operational and financial efficiency.

During plenary, the faith leaders offered their own observations and advices for the smooth implementation of the all-important project and in an interview after the session, their representative, Rev. Dr. Makata of Kanjedza First Assembly assured that they are set to amplify its benefits to their flocks.

“We have really appreciated that we were engaged in the consultation processes with various stakeholders because this project will impact our lives and those of the next generation,” he said.

“The infrastructure of Blantyre Water Board, such as its network pipelines, are aged since most were set up way back in 1929 and over time there was need to rehabilitate them.

“But this new project is quite different in that its magnitude is very impactful taking cognizance that the population of Blantyre has grown tremendously and will keep doing so going forward.”

He advised the project implementors to continue with their consultations and to include legal minds since there will be some areas whose building structures will have to be demolished — thus needing to alert owners of such infrastructure well in advance to avoid legal battles.

He, therefore, pledged that they are ready to appraise their congregants to embrace any changes the project might bring and to be patient by participating positively.

In his opening presentation, BWB’s Director of Technical Services, Mavuto Chiipanthenga impressed on the faith leaders that MWSP-Phase 1, is a project soon to impact people’s lives in Blantyre and surrounding areas.

“Most of you may agree with me, that water supply interruptions are one of the service delivery challenges that households and businesses have been facing in this city and surrounding areas for some time,” he said.

“These challenges have been a concern to us as service providers, and the government of Malawi, just like they have been a concern to you, the people we serve.

“We could not invite all residents of Blantyre today, and as such we decided to invite you, our leaders only, because we know that just like political and civic leaders, you stay with and represent many people who are followers of the different religions and beliefs, you represent and lead.”

He enlightened them that in their implementation process they have already consulted political leaders, civil society organisations (CSOs), the media and several others, to highlight government’s commitment to solving the water challenges people are faceing.

The Government engaged the World Bank to provide support for improving water supply in Malawi and negotiations, the MWSP-1 was made effective on June 6, 2023 with funding of US$145 million (about MK250 billion) from the World Bank towards the cost of the project.

“This is a five-year project aimed at increasing access to improved water services and safely managed sanitation services in the City of Blantyre.

“The project duration is 5 years and would run from June 2023 to March 2029 through which about 1.4 million residents of Blantyre City and surrounding areas are expected to benefit from improved water and sanitation services.”

He added that BWB is responsible for project management, including planning, procurement, finance management, results monitoring and evaluation and safeguards — while Blantyre City Council is supporting BWB to ensure smooth implementation of the sanitation component.

“We cannot give you safe water if we do not safely manage waste matter,” emphasised Chiipanthenga. “This is why the project is also addressing issues of sanitation as well as cholera management.

“The project will also upgrade the sewerage systems in addition to the sewerage pipelines to reduce environmental pollution in the peri-urban areas where the poorer reside and river streams that are an important source of water for multiple uses.”