Pregnant women waiting at Chiunjiza
Engineers Without Borders USA (EWB-USA) is working with Freshwater International Project to eliminate barriers to safe water access for mothers in Malawi, where maternal mortality rates remain unacceptably high at 574 deaths for every 100,000 live births.
Due to high maternal mortality rates it is illegal to give birth at home in Malawi. But for Malawians that live in rural villages, simply getting to a health center is no easy undertaking. At Chiunjiza Health Center, one of the health centers where EWB-USA is working to improve access to clean water, heavily pregnant women walk up to 12 miles with the hope of giving birth to a healthy baby in a safe setting.
After a long journey, the wait for near-term mothers continues at a maternal waiting shelter, typically a brick shell of a building with a concrete floor and no running water or electricity. While these sites were often designed to have water on site many of these systems are non-functionally or run erratically throughout the day.
Over the past few months, EWB-USA alongside Freshwater Project International has used the technical expertise of 4 volunteer engineers to design and implement sustainable solutions such as electric or solar-powered pumps, new taps and tap stands at six of the centers.
At Chuinjiza a nurse’s flick of the wrist can now turn on a tap to quickly get water. That ease of access to reliable, clean water profoundly increases the likelihood of a safer birth experience for the mother and baby.
EWB-USA currently has a volunteer engineer in country continuing life-saving repairs and improvements at Malawi’s rural health centers.
While we have been able to accomplish a great deal of work, support from donors like you will allow us to not just put a band-aid on these water systems and instead allow us to optimize systems and train community members to ensure the sustainability of each site
A Health officer getting water at Chiunjiza
Water at Likangala