Water in Africa: For the lack of £1,790, the village is condemned to foul water, disease and poverty

Kuluunda, Malawi
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The Independent Online

For the people of Kuluunda, it is a cruel case of Hobson's choice; they can either queue for four hours to collect water from an open well or scoop it from nearby marshes. Either will make them sick.

The tiny village in central Malawi has no safe water, say its people, who must walk for a kilometre to the nearest well or run the increased risk of disease from marsh water.

Elina Adini, 30, who has a son and daughter aged seven and 10, visits both each day, bringing home two pails of water from the well for cooking and drinking before scooping four pails from the marshes for washing and cleaning.

She said: "The well is in a bad state. It's not protected and the water is full of bacteria. But the marsh water is probably worse. I often get sick from it, scabies, diarrhoea and bilharzia are all a big part of my family's life."

The lack of water locks the family into an economic vicious circle, Elina makes 100 kwacha (£1) a day selling lettuces on the days when she can work. But much of the time she is forced to stay at home to look after her sick children. She cannot afford a nearby private clinic and can go to a free state clinic only outside the rainy season when she can cross the river.

The village wants a safe borehole but the £1,790 that will cost means they are unlikely to be able to afford clean water without outside help.