A Rotary grant will fund a 12-month project that will bring life-saving water, WASH training, soap, face masks, and more to approximately 1,400 households in 20 rural communities across Malawi.
GAHANNA, Ohio (September 16, 2021) – As cases of COVID-19 continue to infiltrate Malawi, the poorest and most vulnerable rural families who cannot reliably practice social distancing and who do not have access to safe drinking water, soap, designated places for handwashing, or face masks are facing catastrophic consequences.
In response, Rotary International recently provided a grant to Columbus-based nonprofit Design Outreach to aid in the prevention of COVID-19 infection in Malawi through reliable water access, hygiene education, and resources such as face masks to reduce infection rates in 20 Malawian communities.
Design Outreach, a nonprofit organization with the mission of creating life-sustaining solutions that alleviate global poverty, will use the funding to provide 20 Malawian communities with safe water through its flagship project LifePump while also providing infection-prevention education and resources.
LifePump is a deep-reaching, long-lasting hand pump designed to last decades with minimal maintenance and downtime, providing life-saving water to communities who need it most. It is equipped with a remote satellite monitor, LifePumpLink, that provides Design Outreach and its partners with critical performance data to ensure communities never experience a day without water. The grant is made possible through a partnership with Rotary International, whose members will participate in the LifePump installations and training process.
“The arrival of the coronavirus has caused Malawians to be concerned for their safety and the ones they love in a way that most Americans have never experienced,” said Design Outreach CEO and Co-founder Greg Bixler. “Our multi-layered approach to flattening the curve in Malawian communities will include installations of LifePumps and LifePumpLinks; WASH (Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene) training and supplies; engaging women in the fight against COVID-19 in the home and in the community; and fostering economic development.”
This $306,990 Rotary International Grant was made possible by the collaboration and partnership of 27 clubs in Ohio—12 from District 6670 and 15 from District 6690. By providing a reliable source of safe water and infection-prevention tools and resources, this state-wide Rotarian effort will impact 20 communities for generations to come.
This funding—along with Design Outreach’s partnership with Bwaila Rotary Club of Lilongwe, Malawi, the Malawi Ministry of Water, and Doxa Wells Holdings—will provide these rural communities with the following:
- Access to safe water through LifePump and LifePumpLink, which is in alignment with Malawi national policy
- Behavior-changing WASH training to effect adaptation of handwashing with soap
- Access to handwashing stations and face masks
- A potential reduction in chronic illnesses caused by contaminated surface water and malnutrition related to lack of water to grow fruits and vegetables for a varied diet; such conditions can cause lethal complications when combined with COVID-19 infection
- A platform of authority and influence for community leaders, who will have the knowledge and resources needed to protect and empower their communities amid the global COVID-19 pandemic
- Training and resources for women to manufacture and market face masks that can be sold to neighboring communities, providing opportunity for women to be wage-earners for their households
Dr. Beatrice Chisenga is the implementation lead for this project. Dr. Chisenga is a Malawi native, Rotarian, public health nurse specialist, and WASH policy and practice researcher. As Design Outreach’s Africa Field Director, she leads advocacy with government and NGOs in Malawi and Zambia, facilitating international partnerships and policy negotiations for new technologies.
Dickson Wandawanda, lead LifePump installation technician in Malawi, will be overseeing the installations of LifePumps and LifePumpLinks in each community. He will coordinate the drilling efforts and assessment of existing boreholes for retrofit situations. Wandawanda will assist with logistics, and Chisenga will lead community trainings.
Dr. Greg Bixler will oversee the coordination of stakeholders and staff members within the U.S. and in Malawi. Bixler has 17 years of equipment and product development experience in the U.S. and abroad. His career includes traveling to 25 countries and overseeing Design Outreach projects in 10 countries with 3 deployed innovations and 4 more in the pipeline.
ABOUT DESIGN OUTREACH
Design Outreach (DO) is a Christian humanitarian engineering nonprofit organization seeking to create life-sustaining technology that alleviates global poverty. DO focuses on innovative products that improve the lives of the most marginalized and vulnerable people living in rural communities in developing countries. Our flagship technology, LifePump™, has been installed in 10 countries, bringing clean and reliable water to more than 100,000 people globally. With plans to expand our reach globally, Design Outreach strives to impact more than 500,000 people by year 2025.