Q&A with DO’s New Malawi-based LifePump Technician.
The Design Outreach (DO) global team is growing! Please join us in welcoming Dickson Wandawanda as DO’s new LifePump Technician based in Lilongwe, Malawi. Dickson will be responsible for leading LifePump installations and upgrades, providing training and support for village-level operations and maintenance, conducting hydrogeological mapping to determine the most ideal LifePump locations, and assisting in rolling out a commercialized LifePump spare-parts management system.
Born in Northern Malawi in 1974, Dickson has worked on water projects in his home country for nearly 25 years. Beginning as a pump fitting assistant and working his way up to various management positions, Dickson knows firsthand the needs of rural Malawian communities and the challenges they face when it comes to safe water access.
Dickson was first introduced to Design Outreach and LifePump in 2013 when he was working for Christian humanitarian organization World Vision, where he was responsible for the installation and maintenance of standard hand pumps. At that time, Design Outreach began partnering with World Vision to launch a five-country LifePump pilot program, which was designed to prove LifePump’s value and potential to transform rural communities through sustainable water access.
Since then, Dickson has seen the reliability and longevity of LifePump in the communities where he has worked. He has become a passionate advocate for Design Outreach, knowing that LifePump has the potential to change the future of his country. So when Dickson learned that Design Outreach was looking to hire a pump technician to work out of DO’s Malawi office, he knew he had to apply for the job—and we are so thankful he did!
Dickson brings nearly two-and-a-half decades of experience and expertise in providing Malawians with safe and reliable water, and we are thrilled he is now a part of the Design Outreach team.
To learn more about Dickson and his passion for LifePump, check out our Q&A below:
- Where were you born?
I was born in Mzuzu, a city in the northern part of Malawi.
- Did you grow up seeing problems with water firsthand? What was that like?
After my father retired from his job, we all went back to the village where we were drawing from open wells, and the situation was becoming worse during the dry season when the wells were drying up and we were (traveling) a distance to draw water.
- How did you first get involved in water projects?
My first company was Waterboring Contractors. This is a profit-making organization. I started working in this company to earn a living and to have money to help my family.
- What were some of the biggest challenges you saw while working for Waterboring Contractors and World Vision?
Eighty percent of Malawi has no access to piped water, and they rely on water from the boreholes. I have seen a lot of people suffering, relocating from their villages after the boreholes failed to have water.
- When you first heard of LifePump, what did you think about it?
I was very interested in LifePump here in Malawi. We (at World Vision) had been failing to provide water to some areas because of the water scarcity here, and the type of the pump we were using—the Afridev—would not manage to pump water from deeper wells. (We were) abandoning some boreholes just because the water levels were too deep. So I was very excited to see this new pump. LifePump can supply water to everyone here in Malawi.
- What makes LifePump so special?
The second LifePump (installed in Chilekwa, Malawi) was installed at 81 meters deep, and we have not had any pump deeper than 60 meters here. It went 20 meters deeper. The most exciting thing with the Chilekwa borehole was that it was drilled before LifePump, but it was abandoned because of the depth of the water tables. So after learning more about the LifePump, we decided to put the LifePump on the abandoned borehole. I was even telling people from the government that World Vision and Design Outreach had installed a pump at 81 meters. They would not even agree. They thought I was joking! They said, ‘You cannot put a pump at 81 meters and pump with your hands.’ I was very excited to be one of the first people to install a pump at 81 meters. It’s a historical moment. I’m proud of that.
- Having grown up in Malawi, why is working on water projects—specifically the LifePump—so important to you personally?
Having grown up in Malawi and experienced a lot of water-related challenges, I am very happy to work under Design Outreach, especially on LifePump because I am part of the solution to the water problems in Malawi.
- What are you most excited about in your new position with DO?
Life pump important in Malawi because it doesn’t easily break down, and I am excited about my position at DO because I will contribute to the provision of consistent water, which is the main problem in Malawi.
- How many children do you have?
I have three children—two girls and one boy. The firstborn was born in 1999, the second was born in 2005, and (our son) was born in 2017.
- What do you enjoy doing for fun?
I like soccer for fun.
- What do you like most about living in Malawi?
My favorite thing about Malawi is the weather, which is moderate.