LILONGWE, September 9, 2020 – Like many Malawians who live in the peri-urban areas of the capital city, Mary Kooneka’s home does not have running water. To get water for her family, she makes frequent trips to a kiosk in her Mchezi neighborhood, with cash to pay the attendant.
During the limited hours of the manually-operated kiosk—three hours in the morning and three hours in the evening—congestion was common, increasing the risk of spreading COVID-19. And, at one Malawi kwacha per liter of water, costs were high for those dependent on water kiosks, making it difficult to engage in the increased hygiene and handwashing practices recommended by the government to help mitigate the spread of the coronavirus.
“I used to receive cash directly from water users as they come to draw water, which is a health risk in this time of COVID-19,” said Chrissy Kawanga, a former kiosk manager.
In response to community concerns, the Lilongwe Water Board (LWB) began the installation of E-Madzi kiosks, fully-automated systems allowing users to draw water using an e-card. The E-Madzi kiosks gives residents access to water at any time. The system has also enabled a 65% reduction in water costs, because there is no longer need for an attendant, and no waste. With this technology, about 8,750 customers in some of the city’s vulnerable neighborhoods are now able to access water for improved hygiene practices and handwashing to prevent COVID-19.