World Water day 2023: Groundwater.
Groundwater is the most abundant source of freshwater available to humans, despite being largely unseen.
Stored below the earth's surface in tiny spaces between soil, rocks, and other geological formations, it is one of the most important natural resources on our planet.
As you would rightly guess, groundwater is the source we tap into when we drill and repair boreholes in Malawi.
Most of Malawi’s population relies on groundwater.
And not just Malawi.
One-third of drinking water in the UK comes from aquifers (when a water-bearing rock readily transmits water to wells and springs). There are 11 primary aquifers in the UK, which supply your drinking water.
All around the world, we rely on groundwater.
It makes up 30% of the world’s fresh water.
And we need to keep it safe.
But unfortunately, it’s susceptible to pollution from septic tank waste, industrial waste disposal and agricultural runoff. These can cause serious health implications, from dysentery and cholera to toxic poisons.
In Malawi, toxins, bacteria and parasites are also found in groundwater.
But monitoring water safety is a monumental task.
If you think about it in the UK, there are 11 primary aquifers, managed and monitored constantly by highly trained personnel.
To prevent disease water in every borehole should be routinely monitored and checked. But the reality is that many boreholes across Malawi are difficult to access and are not supported outside of the community. Many have not been visited for years. On our part we have mapped and currently monitor 2,500 boreholes in Blantyre Rural.
Madzi Alipo is developing a water quality monitoring programme. We are routinely testing 400 water points in just one TA. This need is all the more urgent in the aftermath of Cyclone Freddy, where contaminated water just seems to be everywhere.
Labs like ours need to be available and accessible across the country, to help keep people safe and reduce the spread of water-borne diseases such as cholera and dysentery.
Across the planet, we share water. When it comes down to it, my water problem can easily become your water problem too.
World Water Day 2023 is all about sustainability and protection. So how can we be part of the solution for our global shared resource: groundwater?
World Water Day has created a helpful checklist of all the things we can do to protect our global water resources.
Here are some of their ideas that we can all put into practice right away.
Click the link to head over to WWD 2023’s website and download the free pack.
Update on Cyclone Freddy:
We have seen yet more water damage yet again from rainfall in Malawi.
You have gifted £9,168.89 to allow us to help in the wake of Cyclone Freddy - with more donations every day. Thank you.
The Malawi Army army and international search and rescue agencies are in Blantyre helping find and recover bodies; there are still over 200 people missing.
In Bangula, people are being rescued by boat from areas cut off by the floods. Helicopters have been sent in with relief. The UN and others are setting up camps and providing relief on a large scale.
The UN has released $5.5 million to Malawi for Cyclone Freddy relief. With reports of millions of people affected across Malawi, Mozambique and Madagascar.
Here is what the UN Resident Coordinator for Malawi, Rebecca Adda-Dontoh said when visiting flood-ravaged communities on 16 March,
“The destruction and suffering that I witnessed in Southern Malawi is the human face of the global climate crisis,” she said. “The people I met with—many of whom have lost their homes and loved ones—have done nothing to cause this crisis. We, as the United Nations, stand in full solidarity with the people of Malawi at this tragic time and we call on the international community to do the same.”
The Madzi Alipo team has spent the past week collating data on boreholes around the emergency camps, repairing boreholes and water testing. The reports go to the Department of Water, Hygiene and Sanitation to help in the relief efforts.
Right now, there are still heavy rains every day, Cyclone Freddy may be the longest cyclone in recorded history.
So people are staying inside, trying to stay fed, dry and safe.
Our donation page for Cyclone Freddy is still open. The donated funds will go towards repairing boreholes and water testing in areas directly affected by Cyclone Freddy.
Help to stop the spread of cholera.
Help prevent dysentery.
Give people access to safe water.
We will also continue to provide food and help for people we find have fallen through the cracks of wider support efforts.
Tionana, Until next time.
Next month we will be hearing from Project BRAVE and updating you again on Cyclone Freddy.