Malawi Brewgooder Trip 07/05/17- 10/05/17
One of the most densely populated countries in Africa and home to 17 million people, the availability of water for domestic and agricultural use has significantly reduced in Malawi due to extreme weather, rapid population growth and ground water contamination. This has increased the risks of disease outbreaks and crop failure. Nearly 85% of the population in Malawi live in rural areas and the agriculture sector supports the majority of livelihoods in the country. Access to reliable, available, affordable, sustainable clean water is still a major issue in many districts across the country. Many hand pumps that have been built are broken, resulting in people returning to unsafe water sources.
Since Brewgooder launched early last year, we have been on a mission to provide drinkers in Scotland with clean water lager and provide remote communities in Malawi with clean drinking water. Having spent the last four months walking around Edinburgh visiting the eclectic mix of bars this city has to offer and growing Brewgooder as a brand, it was incredible to visit the two clean water projects we have funded so far in Malawi last week. Our story is growing and the heart of our message is very simple: Drink Beer Give Water.
Our journey from Edinburgh to London to Addis Ababa to Lilongwe was filled with excitement and anticipation. We hit the road running travelling to Dedza, visiting one of the first project communities that we have supported. The road network in Malawi is still gradually developing and the car journey took us 6 hours across the vast arid landscape. After the bumpy drive, the roads became impassable and we walked the last 3km to the village called Phirilongwe. This isolated community of around 2,000 people now have access to a protected water source, called the Ellon Well, which brings abundant clean drinking water by using a hand pump.
The Ellon Well has transformed the lives of families living in this remote rural village. Before this project existed, women (as the main collectors of water) had to hike for approximately 5km up a nearby mountain to access the nearest spring. This spring was also providing water for nearby animals and had continuous stagnant water problems, increasing the risk of malaria and water borne diseases. Building this well and ensuring that people have access to water could not have been done without the support from our drinkers back home. Every Brewgooder can tells a story and this has been demonstrated in Phirilongwe.
The second day involved us visiting our first project at the Nora Docherty School in a place called Chiluzi. We committed to fund this project as part of our crowdfund. The Brewgooder Foundation has provided a solar-powered 3,000 litre water tank, replenished every four hours, supporting 3 taps and piped water into a nursery school feeding programme and a pre/ante-natal clinic. During our visit we were able to see first-hand the ways in which these taps are having a positive impact on people’s lives. For example, having a water provision for the pre/ante-natal clinic means that pregnant women no longer have to travel 18km by foot to the nearest clinic, expectant and new mothers can access essential services for their children under 5 in the local community.
Being able to access these taps located in separate areas around the school has significantly reduced the manual effort and time needed to fetch water. The implementation of the nursery feeding programme which includes breakfast and lunch school meals, has had a substantial impact on nourishment, concentration levels and overall attendance at the school. Before these taps were installed, a high proportion of pupils were suffering from malnutrition, girls were dropping out of school in order to fetch water, and women were collecting water from hazardous and unprotected areas around Chiluzi. We visited one of the previous water sources used, whereby women lowered each other down into a dilapidating well and crouched to collect water. The water they collected from this well was contaminated and brownish in colour. Having access to three different taps has made collecting water safer and easier for this community.
A year on, from having never sold a can of beer in our lives before we launched, we have managed to deliver our promises through the work we have undertaken in Phirilongwe and Chiluzi. Coming from a country like Scotland that has abundant water resources, it is difficult for many to imagine what it is like to have no access to safe drinking water. Through the power of craft beer we are changing that.
Seeing this impact, seeing people using these taps funded by our initial crowdfund backers and beer drinkers, it has given us time to reflect and has proved to us that this mission is real and will continue.