The main improved rural water supplies in Malawi are boreholes installed with handpumps, shallow wells fitted with handpumps and piped gravity fed schemes (GFS). Coverage of improved water supplies in rural Malawi is estimated to be 71% (UNICEF, 2006b. However, it is estimated that 31% of the improved rural water points are not functioning, thus effective coverage is reduced to 55%.
To improve this functioning ratio, some Operation and Maintenance (O&M) have been undertaken in Malawi since 1999. Operation and Maintenance applied on water supplies (hand pumps, etc.) means:
- Operation means the safe, reliable and economic use of a facility over its Life Span. The Life Span of a system is the number of years that the facilities are expected to operate.
- Maintenance describes the set of measures and activities aimed at keeping, or restoring optimal and reliable functionality of equipment.
Districts where O&M projects are active are Lilongwe, Salima, Dowa, Mchinji, Nchisi, Zomba, Mulanje and Chiradzulu. Deployment is ongoing in Kasungu and Dedza.