The Development Situation in Malawi

Written evidence submitted by WaterAid

How UK Aid can support Malawi’s efforts to bring water and sanitation to all its citizens


· Although Malawi has made significant progress on water supply, over two and a half million people remain without safe drinking water.

· Almost half of the population-more than seven million people-do not have access to adequate sanitation and Malawi is seriously off-track from achieving the sanitation Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target.

· Diarrhoea-mainly from dirty water and poor sanitation-causes more than 10% of under-five child deaths in Malawi. There is an urgent need to invest in sanitation and hygiene.

· Only 63% of water points in Malawi are functional.

· The Department for International Development (DFID) is aiming to ensure 800,000 people have access to clean water and improved sanitation by 2015, but with more than 2 million Malawians without safe water and more than 7 million without adequate sanitation there is scope for DFID to scale up its commitments.

DFID could:

· Invest at scale in sanitation and hygiene, and play a significant role in enabling Malawi to achieve the MDG sanitation target, by increasing its existing aim to bring water and sanitation to 800,000 people.

· Provide support to Malawian Government Ministries in implementing the National Sanitation Strategy to ensure its success – particularly in rural areas and providing water and sanitation in schools, where the need is very high.

· Provide direct support for Districts to deliver their District Strategic Investment Plans for water and sanitation.

· Invest in existing water and sanitation infrastructure in both urban and rural areas, which is in need of major rehabilitation.

General background on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene

Investment in water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) are essential to making progress towards a multitude of development areas:

Diarrhoea is the biggest killer of children under five in Africa and the second biggest in South Asia. [1] Diarrhoea, respiratory infections, malnutrition and many water borne tropical diseases are directly linked to poor sanitation. [2] Access to WASH is therefore crucial to achieving global health aims, including the child health MDG targets.

WASH is good for women in developing countries. The burden of fetching water falls predominantly on women and girls, costing them productive time. [3] Searching for discrete places to defecate can increase their vulnerability to gender based violence. [4]

Water and sanitation are also essential for economic growth:

In 2003, lack of access to safe water and sanitation cost sub-Saharan Africa about 5% of GDP, more than all aid and debt relief to the region that year. [5] A reasonable estimate is that investments in WASH can generate $8 in GDP growth for every $1 spent. [6] In locations where WASH diseases are a heavy burden and where water sources are distant, the returns can be even greater; the upper estimates reach a return of $1 to $46. [7]

Despite its clear centrality to the MDGs, there is a huge shortfall in funding for the WASH crisis. In fact, it is declining in prioritisation. Global aid has risen to US$128.7 billion, but WASH as a share of global aid has steadily fallen. It was over 8% of total aid in the mid-1990s, but by 2009 had fallen to below 5.5%. [8]

UK’s bilateral aid to WASH was less than 2% of their total aid in 2010, compared to over 10% in Japan and over 15% in Korea. The proportion of UK aid that goes to bilateral WASH programming is one third that of both Germany and Spain, and less than 50% of the donor average. [9]

The sanitation target of MDG7 is one of the most off-track global targets, with less than half the population in Sub-Saharan Africa with access to adequate sanitation, leaving the region up two centuries away from achieving it on current trends. [10]

Malawi’s Water and Sanitation sector

Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world, and it faces severe challenges in overcoming poverty. The country’s maternal, infant and child mortality rates are amongst the highest in the world, and 12% of the working age population is HIV-positive. Diarrhoea from dirty water and poor sanitation causes more than 10% of under-five child deaths in Malawi. [11]

The Government has made progress in providing access to safe water and sanitation to an increasing number of Malawian citizens. The 2012 WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) reports that 83% of the population has access to an improved drinking water source (compared with 41% in 1990). 95% of the urban population has access to improved drinking water and 80% of the rural population. However, there has been less progress on sanitation, and the country remains seriously off-track from achieving the sanitation Millennium Development Goal target. JMP reports that 51% of the population has access to an improved sanitation source (49% in urban areas and 51% in rural areas) compared with 39% in 1990.

Analysis of the sector

Malawian Government Ministries have been participating actively in the Sanitation and Water for All (SWA) Partnership and as part of this work have analysed both the progress made and the challenges facing the sector. [1] Water Supply and Sanitation services and use of safe hygiene practices are among the key priority areas in the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy (2012 – 2016) alongside education, health care, HIV/AIDs and disaster management. Water Supply and Sanitation services are also part of the Government’s commitment to meet the MDGs by 2015.

The Government of Malawi has developed a national water policy. The overall policy goal is sustainable management and utilisation of water resources in order to provide water services, of acceptable quality and in sufficient quantities that satisfy the requirements of every Malawian and enhance the country’s natural ecosystems. The Government has also developed a National Sanitation policy. The policy document focuses on strategies for scaling up hygiene and sanitation promotion, creating demand for facilities and developing various technological options for institutions and households.

The key challenges identified and affecting the sector however are set out below:

· Insufficient political prioritisation of sanitation and water in the national and district budgets

· Insufficient National Investments and Poor Targeting

· Weak Country Sector Capacity

· Lack of Accountability for Commitments

· Weak Monitoring, Evaluation and Analysis of Data and dissemination for informed decision-making

· Limited knowledge and understanding of the Right to Sanitation and Drinking Water

· Limited participation of the private sector in water, sanitation and hygiene promotion

History of donor support [1]

The WASH sector receives support from both bilateral and multilateral institutions. The United States of America, through its development wing USAID, has committed significant resources to the water sector.

Donor Share of Cumulative Aid Commitments (2007-2010)

Source: Ministry of Finance

As noted in the Chart above, in the years 2005 to 2010, USAID was the largest donor, accounting for 43% of all donor funds committed for water and sanitation projects in Malawi. The multilateral institutions, such as African Development Bank and the World Bank, have also committed considerable resources to water and sanitation.

In many cases there is a considerable mismatch between what donors commit to spend and the amount of money they actually disburse, however. Overall donor disbursements in the period 2007-2010 were 30% of total commitments. However there was considerable variation amongst the donors, with some of the smaller donors such as Canada, Finland, Iceland and Germany disbursing as much if not more than their commitments. On the other hand the USA, the major donor to the WASH sector, had the lowest ratio of disbursements to commitments at 18% over the four year period. Two donors, the European Union and OPEC, did not disburse funds despite making commitments to do so. In the case of the European Union, the main reason for the delay in disbursements was the delay by the government in appointments of directors of the water boards, a condition for release of the funds.

Disbursements as a Percentage of Commitments

Source: Ministry of Finance

DFID plans for its intervention in Malawi

Following the Bilateral Aid Review in March 2011, the Department for International Development (DFID) announced it would spend on average £93 million per year in Malawi until 2015 and identified the following priorities:

· Improving basic services especially health, water and sanitation, and access to justice, focusing on girls and women

· Enabling the private sector to be an engine for growth

· Improving the effectiveness and transparency of national audits and local accountability and ensuring that public resources deliver the best results for the poor and the vulnerable

In terms of results, DFID is aiming to ensure 800,000 people have access to clean water and improved sanitation, by 2015, more than half of whom will be women.

WaterAid’s view of the opportunities facing DFID

WaterAid welcomes DFID’s decision to begin a new WASH programme in Malawi and considers it important that the deterioration in diplomatic relations between the two countries does not dampen DFID’s commitment to providing access to essential services for those Malawians who do not have access.

Continue support for improving governance of the sector

There is a real opportunity to build on the important support on governance to the Water and Sanitation Sector, where WaterAid and DFID have worked in partnership over recent years. There are many gaps and opportunities in the sector that DFID could utilise to make a lasting impact. The Sector Wide Approach (SWAp) process is one of the strategic areas that needs to be nurtured to be fully realised. The development of the National Monitoring and Evaluation framework to guide sector processes needs to be complementary processes at the district level to be effective. The high non-functionality rate among water facilities threatens the sustainability of access to safe water particularly for the rural marginalised communities.

Increase the ambition to tackle the sanitation crisis

However, there is scope for DFID to be very ambitious in its WASH programme, and as well as continuing to support governance programmes, to also invest resources in direct service provision. Almost 7 million Malawians, most of whom are in rural areas, are without sanitation. Government Ministries are in the process of developing a National Sanitation Strategy, and DFID Malawi could potentially provide significant support to ensure its effective implementation and success, particularly in rural areas, and for WASH in schools where the need is still very high. DFID could play a significant role in enabling Malawi to achieve the Millennium Development Goal target for sanitation, by increasing its existing aim to bring water and sanitation to 800,000 people, and bringing this more in line with the scale of the sanitation crisis facing Malawi.

Support rehabilitation and extension of existing schemes

A further issue is the current state of existing infrastructure in both urban and rural areas, which is in major need of rehabilitation. A Joint Sector Review of the water and sanitation sector in Malawi in 2011 identified that only 63% of water points were functional. WaterAid is partnering with AusAid to rehabilitate and extend a major gravity-fed water supply scheme in two separate districts (Nkhotakota and Ntchisi) in Central Region. The scheme which includes the town of Mwansambo, close to Lake Malawi, consists of three main branches reaching down over several miles to villages and schools in two separate districts (Nkhotakota and Ntchisi), providing water for 38,000 people, although low sustainability has reduced this total substantially. Built in 1983 with the support of USAID, the existing scheme is in need of significant rehabilitation, with old pipes, leaking water, non-functional water-points, deteriorating water quality, and a shortage of improved sanitation in the schools and communities. Thanks to significant funding from AusAid (A$2.8m or GBP1.77m), the project will rehabilitate the existing network, including replacing steel pipes at the start of the network with wider diameter pipes for greater volume, replacing damaged PVC pipes, repairing the existing ten water storage tanks and building a new one. It will also build a new water treatment plant to improve water quality, build separate disabled-access toilets for boys and girls in the local schools, aiming for a ratio of one toilet per 50 pupils, and provide sanitation for communities. Depending on funding, the plan is to install up to 600 taps in total, providing safe water for 42,000 people, making this the second largest scheme of its kind in Central Region.

There are several similar schemes across the country where the combination of population growth and ageing infrastructure, mean there is an urgent need for rehabilitiation and extension. By supporting the repair and extension of these schemes, DFID could scale up the Government’s commitments on water and sanitation, achieving value for money, as well as the crucial results and outcomes of bringing the essential services of water, sanitation and hygiene to Malawi’s unserved poor communities.

Provide direct support to districts

DFID could also support the implementation of District Strategic Investment Plans (DSIPs). DFID is currently planning to deliver its WASH programme principally through major International Non-Governmental Organisations, however there would be significant benefits in providing direct support to local councils. Several districts have been supported to develop sector wide plans with the hope of improving planning, implementation and monitoring water and sanitation projects. However, districts are struggling to mobilise resources to implement the plans. There are minimal amounts flowing from the central government, and these are not adequate to meet the needs of the districts.

Malawian Government Ministries have also introduced the Local Development Fund as a mechanism for supporting projects. However, most of these funds are currently ring-fenced such that only tiny amounts are available for water and sanitation on a competitive basis. DFID could also consider contributing to this pool fund but equally ring fence the funds for water and sanitation.

March, 2012

[1] Global, regional, and national causes of child mortality in 2008: a systematic analysis: Robert E Black, Simon Cousens, Hope L Johnson, Joy E Lawn, Igor Rudan, Diego G Bassani, Prabhat Jha, Harry Campbell, Christa Fischer Walker, Richard Cibulskis, Thomas Eisele, Li Liu, Colin Mathers, for the Child Health Epidemiology Reference Group of WHO and UNICEF.

[2] Esrey, et al. 1991) (Curtis and Cairncross 2003 (Luby, et al. 2005) (Rabie and Curtis 2006) (Unicef 2009) (WHO 2008)

[3] WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation, 2010

[4] United Nations Development Programme 2006

[5] United Nations Development Programme 2006

[6] United Nations Development Programme 2006

[7] Hutton, Haller and Bartram 2007

[8] OECD-DAC Creditor Reporting System 2011

[9] OECD-DAC Creditor Reporting System 2011

[10] WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation 2012

[11] Black et al, 2008 .


[1] This analysis of donors in Malawi draws on original research by Development Finance International, commissioned by WaterAid in 201 1 .

Prepared 28th May 2012