Photo credit: Oxfam Canada

Elesi gets the whole package

A household of six people can use a lot of water.

Ask Elesi Namalira. She knows. She and her daughters carry it.

In fact, Elesi and her family and fellow-villagers in Chilombo, Malawi have been collecting and drinking water from the river and shallow wells for years, which explains the high rate of diarrhea and other water-borne diseases.

The devastating Cyclone that swept across southern Africa in March 2019 just made things worse. The flooding brought on by strong winds and heavy rainfall further contaminated the wells and destroyed household latrines.

A typical mother in her community, Elesi collects water, prepares meals and cleans her home and surroundings. She has a small garden where she grows maize, potatoes, sugarcane and vegetables. Cyclone Idai left her family in a dire situation as her expected 2019 harvest of maize was destroyed in the floods, their latrine was washed away, and their water sources further contaminated.

Oxfam Canada, supported by the Humanitarian Coalition and Global Affairs Canada, responded to the immediate needs of Elesi and her community, starting with water.

As an emergency measure, Elesi and others like her received water filters, to ensure clean drinking water for the entire household, and hygiene kits to enable good personal care.

Oxfam also drilled a deep borehole in her village, providing a source of clean water that is reliable and closer than the previous wells. Together with her daughters she is now able to draw enough water for everyone in the home, for cooking, bathing, cleaning, as well as handwashing after using the latrine. Because their source of water is closer, they now have more time for other activities, such as school work for the girls.

In addition, Elesi’s family received latrine construction materials. Jackson Khomoni, Elesi’s husband, says the iron sheets, nails, slabs and training on improved latrine construction has enabled him to build a durable latrine for his family.

And finally, Elesi was a beneficiary of maize seed, fertilizer and three she-goats to ensure future food security for her family.

“Oxfam has covered me,” she says. “They have given me an entire house, from food to water and hygiene.

“For me, this is a priceless gift.”