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Water heroes

The different Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are usually interrelated. Often, the elimination of one problem is simultaneously a solution to another. In many regions of the world, powerty, equality, education and hunger are interrelated.

Kettie Alinafe Harawa has been working on the problem for some time. She is Malawi-based director of influence and scope for Water for People. Water for People began operations in Malawi in 2000 and now serves three districts: areas in and around the country's second-largest city of Blantyre, as well as the rural areas of Chikwawa and Chiradzulu.

Water for People, headquartered in Denver, Colorado, is an international nonprofit that works in Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Peru, Rwanda, Uganda and India and has directors in each of those countries.

Harawa manages projects such as groundwater development, installation of pumps and other water infrastructure, and works with malawian local governments, the national government, nongovernmental organizations, and other groups to achieve Water for People's goal: the long-term provision of quality drinking water and sanitation in malawi, supported by communities, businesses, and governmentsHarawa's oversight is that basic needs such as water and food must first and foremost be met on a regular basis, after which all other problems can be solved.

According to the United Nations, by 2020, two billion people worldwide did not have safe drinking water, 3.6 billion did not have safe sanitation, and 2.3 billion did not have basic hygiene. 129 countries are not on track to have sustainably managed water systems by 2030.

Many African countries, including Malawi with its population of about 19 million, are more affected by water stress than the rest of the world due to severe poverty and lack of water infrastructure, and a report by the World Resources Institute suggests that climate change could exacerbate the problem. In Malawi, about one-third of the population lacks access to a basic water supply, and 75% lack access to sanitation services.[1]

To provide long-term access to safe water sources that are self-sustaining and used by women residents, Harawa works based on two goals:

1) Ensuring long-term water viability

By drilling and repairing boreholes, the organization brings water to communities. So that water access can be used and repaired without the organization's presence, it also educates residents on how to use it, and educates them on the need to consume clean drinking water. They also show you how to reuse water and use it to farm and irrigate your own crops.

Harawa considers her work in Blantyre to be one of her proudest achievements. She was instrumental in strengthening the Blantyre Water Board and establishing ten water users associations, which manage 1,000 communal water kiosks throughout the city.

She also led a team in Malawi that built more than 360 water kiosks and established a sanitation business chain to provide long-term sanitation services in Blantyre.

2) Meeting the United Nations' water security targets

Harawa also works to assist Malawi in meeting the UN Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG 6) on clean water and sanitation. She added that the country is now one step closer after Water for People was involved in developing a resilient financing strategy for the water sector. Harawa was very helpful during the drafting process. "If we do business as usual, then we're not going to meet it," Harawa said. "But if we change the way we approach things and do things better, then we will be able to achieve SDG 6 in Malawi." Harawa is not satisfied with a small stage victory. Just because water is currently flowing in different areas under the control of one organization does not mean that access for clean water will be provided in the future. Her strategy of providing education among users and training them on how to use and repair the access forms a good basis that a stable and safe water source can also be used independently and that the knowledge will be spread further.

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