Australia is helping to improve hygiene and access to clean water in Malawi

Uploaded by AusAIDvideo on 15.09.2010

NARRATOR: Cholera recently claimed more than 2,500 lives in Zimbabwe.
But it's not the only southern African country
facing increased disease as summer rains arrive in the region.
Here in Malawi,
a task force comprising the Ministry of Health, UNICEF
and the World Health Organization,
with funding from the Australian Government's aid program,
is putting a spotlight on the problem.
Children at this community-based childcare centre
are being taught to wash their hands before every meal.
They are also learning to use community-built toilets
in newly painted outbuildings,
and to clean their hands with soap afterwards.
If you can think of schools,
there's, like, one toilet for 450 students.
So, imagine if you're a boy or girl going to school.
That's an absolute nightmare.
And this program's about putting water and sanitation into schools,
into early childhood development centres, and into communities.
That's why it's so important.
NARRATOR: It's also important
because it's helping women to save time in their day
for other activities,
as well as time for their own personal hygiene.
People from this village were drawing water from a far school,
and there they were being subjected to long queues,
because that borehole which is at that school
was serving a lot of villages.
So since the coming of this bore,
these people have actually saved time
for doing some other profitable activities,
and they're also using water for practising some hygienic practices,
like hand-washing, washing their clothes,
as well as washing their bodies for them to be healthy.
NARRATOR: The building of household and school toilets in Malawi
also makes a difference when it comes to seasonal weather impacts.
He's actually saying
that those latrines are indeed permanent latrines
because, unlike the ones that they were actually using in the past
that they could actually collapse each and every season,
the ones that we have at present will actually last for so many years
and the kids are going to benefit.
NARRATOR: The elderly benefit too,
and whole villages have started to understand the wisdom
of building toilets for improved health,
often with a sense of competitive pride.
It's estimated that 80% of Malawians
have access to some basic form of sanitation,
But only 20% are estimated to have access
to improved sanitation.
And that worries us,
because it means a large number of people
can still get sanitation- and water-related diseases.
This is a very, very dry country.
It only rains for about four months of the year,
so that's when people have water, that's when they have crops.
Otherwise, there's nothing.
NARRATOR: This water and sanitation program is also important
because it's helping people with their crops
so they can grow food within the dry season.
Approximately 3 million women and 1.2 million children
are directly affected by poor water and sanitation coverage in Malawi.
Improving this is clearly one strategy for fighting poverty
and achieving the Millennium Development Goals,
as well as delivering on Malawi's growth and development strategy.
There are significant signs of improvement already,
but the test is to ensure that these improvements are sustainable,
and that the government of Malawi
is able to roll out positive changes to the whole of the country
before the year 2015.