Ellis Adjei Adams has been awarded an NSF Doctoral Dissertation Research Grant (DDRI) for his research on “Decentralization, Institutions, and Access to Potable Water in Malawi’s Peri Urban Settlements”.
More than 8000 people, including 4500 children under age 5, die unnecessarily from lack of potable water in Malawi every year. Lack of potable water, especially in the peri-urban areas, affects several thousands of people who rely on inadequate communal water-kiosks. Many also use water from unsafe sources. Women and children are the primary victims, spending up to six hours daily to search for water. Due to rapid population growth in Malawi, unplanned settlements along cities, known as peri-urban areas, continue to form and expand. Over 76 percent of Malawi’s current urban population lives in these peri-urban areas where residents are often too poor to afford household-water connections. Ironically, Malawi’s abundant water resources cover 21 percent of its land area. The problem is neither technical nor due to absolute scarcity; rather, it is mainly due existing policies, reforms, institutions, and poverty. Centralized water-policies have proven unsuccessful for the peri-urban areas, and many residents are still without potable water. Recently, partnerships between community-based associations and state utility companies have emerged as one possible solution although their opportunities and constraints are largely unknown.