FEATURE: Design Outreach Changing Lives Through 'Life Pumps'

Dr. Beatrice Chisinga after installing a life pump Dr. Beatrice Chisinga after installing a life pump

Water is life so they say. But for communities around Mathamanda primary school in Nkhata Bay, the situation has been unpalatable.

According to village headman, Zamlomo under traditional authority Timbiri the only borehole which was at the primary school developed faults a year ago rendering the people hopeless.

He said people were enduring distances of over 2 kilometers to access water from streams which they were sharing with wild animals.

"People were finding challenges to find water, women from this area were enduring distances of more than 2 kilometers, the situation was worse at this primary school," said Village headman Zamlomo.

The traditional leader said this has always worried communities in the area where children especially those under five were prone to diarrhea diseases due to poor sanitation.

" Now with the covid19 pandemic among us we were in great need of a steady water supply," says Village headman Zamlomo.

However, the village headman and his community can now breathe a sigh of relief following an intervention by Design Outreach who have rehabilitated and replaced the faulty old borehole pump with a life pump using stainless steel.

"Our prayers have been answered, now our women won't endure long distances to find water, even learners and staff at school can now rejoice due to the coming of Design Outreach," said Village headman Zamlomo.

Many boreholes in Malawi are either being abandoned after they develop faults resulting in communities walking long distances to find the precious commodity.


Design Outreach is a US-based non-profit humanitarian engineering organization that uses technologies to change the lives of people.

Among its other renovations is the 'life pump' which provides clean drinking water to communities for a time span of over 30 years.

Dr. Beatrice Chisenga who is Design Outreach Regional Director for Southern Africa says many boreholes in the country do not last long because of the materials which are used for pumping the water.

" We have noticed that boreholes in the country do not last long as most of the materials used are plastic hence leave communities with a lot of challenges to find clean water when they develop faults," said Dr. Chisenga

Dr. Chisenga says the life pumps are ideal for the Malawian situation as they last over 30 years without developing faults due to the use of steel.

"The life pumps are long-lasting, they can last over 30 years without developing any fault so as to design outreach we saw it fit to install them in a number of districts in the country so that we reduce challenges people were facing", said Dr. Chisenga.

The Life pump has numerous advantages over the other pumps used in boreholes in the country.

This is so because it can pump water from a depth of up to 100 meters and the pumping itself is very user-friendly as compared to the other pumps.

Design outreach field teams also provide training to communities who will be using the life pumps for them to be able to carry out some maintenance works when the need arises.

Nkhata bay district water officer Alex Mwanjasi Mwakikunga commended Design Outreach for the work they are doing in replacing old pumps with life pumps saying this will go a long way in reducing the problems people in the district were facing to access clean water

Mwakikunga said only 18% of the population in the district have access to proper sanitary facilities a thing which is being aggravated by the problem of clean water

" We are very grateful with the support we have received from design outreach, we have a number of boreholes which are not working in the district and now with the covid19 pandemic the situation is worrying as people use water to wash their hands," said Mwakikunga

He said they too are learning from design outreach on how to master the technology in installing life pumps

Apart from installing life pumps, design outreach is also supporting some health facilities in the country with personal protective equipment like face masks, hand sanitizers, and handwashing gadgets

"We are aware that government cannot do everything alone in the fight against the pandemic hence as design outreach we also support some health facilities with PPEs, we also distribute the face masks at designated places like markets to ensure that our people are protected from the virus", said Dr. Chisenga

Through the partnership with other stakeholders, design outreach aims at providing 3,000 Life Pumps in Malawi by 2030 to serve an estimated 1,500,000 people.

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Last modified on Monday, 15/03/2021

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