Transforming Lives with Clean Water

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Dr. Greg Allgood—World Vision USA vice president for Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene—reflects on a recent trip to the village of Duke in Malawi. Read how clean water transformed the lives of the people of this village.

Dr. Greg Allgood—World Vision USA vice president for Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene—reflects on a recent trip to the village of Duke in Malawi.

See how clean water transformed the lives of the people of Duke, from "I didn't think we were going to make it" to "a little piece of paradise"!

On a recent trip to Malawi, I experienced the transformation that takes place when water comes to a village. Just four years ago, the village of Duke received a clean and safe water source from World Vision. The village elder told me, “Until the borehole came, I didn’t think we were going to make it.”

Four years ago, the hygiene of the village was poor because people had to haul water from long distances. In 2011, the year prior to receiving the water source, the unsafe water resulted in an astonishing 44 cases of dysentery.

Today, everything is changed in Duke. The entire village of a little more than 100 people turns out to meet us with song. The children are beautiful and excited to greet us. The elders tell us with pride that the community of Duke is now open-defecation free. Everyone has a toilet and uses it. This was part of the work by the World Vision Malawi staff to ensure that the community was ready to receive and maintain a clean water source.

World Vision also insisted that a water committee be established and that a fee collection system was put in place to ensure that the water point could be maintained and repaired. The local repair committee can do most of the maintenance and repair, but there’s new money available for bigger repairs.

The fee collection system has had another benefit: it’s grown into a way for community members to receive loans. Martin Katambo, a 19-year-old confident young man, showed me his new home and tells me that this savings and loan association enabled him to purchase chicks that he sold as chickens. With his increased wealth, he purchased piglets that generated significant income when he sold them as grown pigs. The chickens, pigs, and better farming practices provided by the World Vision staff have made Martin a prosperous young man.

In walking through the village of Duke and spending time with the people, it’s clear that this village has been transformed by clean water and the development model that also brings community ownership, improved agricultural practices, and a system for loans. 

Martin is eager to start a family with his new bride Mary, and he is optimistic for his village. He considers Duke a little piece of paradise. After seeing the total transformation of Duke from a village struck by dysentery to a community lifted out of poverty, it’s easy to share Martin’s optimism.

What’s very exciting to me is that we will work with literally thousands of villages in 2015 to achieve this same transformation!

And it all starts with clean water.

Written by Dr. Greg Allgood
Photo: ©2014 Dr. Greg Allgood/World Vision

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