Malawi’s water resources cover 21 percent of its territory and include Lake Malawi—the third-largest freshwater lake in Africa—which it shares with Mozambique. The abundance of water means that 87 percent of the total population has access to an improved water source as of 2015. And yet, a high level of population growth, increasing demands on its water resources, and lack of infrastructure combine to make Malawi a water-stressed country. This is especially true in rural areas where only 10 percent of people use a piped water source, compared to 81 percent in urban areas. Sanitation service remains low as of 2015, with only 44 percent of the population having access to an improved sanitation facility.
USAID works closely with the Ministries of Health and Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development to strengthen the WASH sector. Its efforts have resulted in some notable improvements. For example, the number of children under 2 years who experienced at least one incidence of diarrhea dropped from 78 percent in 2010 to 28 percent in 2015. As a result of other USAID activities in FY 2016, 79,000 people benefited from improved agricultural water management.
Current WASH-related activities include promoting sustainable community-led total sanitation initiatives that empower communities to assess their open defecation status and take action to become open defecation free. USAID is also conducting WASH interventions at schools that will lead to improved achievement of girls in upper primary and secondary school, such as creating private spaces for girls who are menstruating.