By Telephorus Chigwenembe, Communication & Learning Specialist

The Malawi Global Sanitation Fund (GSF) team says it is confident that Traditional Authority (TA) Mwadzama in Nkhota-kota district, central Malawi, is now open defecation free, setting the area on a path towards becoming Malawi’s third T/A out of the country’s 154 to attain such a status.

This follows a two-day pre-verification exercise that the team and Price Waterhouse Coopers, GSF Country Programme Monitor, conducted in the area two weeks ago. The exercise was a precursor to a verification mission by the National ODF Taskforce that currently holds the authority to declare an area as huge as a T/A open defecation free. The national level verification for the T/A which has 16, 614 households and 111 villages is scheduled for early April, according to GSF Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist, Mike Khoza.

Esnart Saini, Project Officer for Hygiene Village Project in Nkhota-kota district said a number of factors have contributed towards the achievements in T/A Mwadzama. “There was great collaboration among all concerned parties. For example, traditional leaders led by T/A Mwadzama himself were committed to the cause. We have also been working with Participatory Development Initiative (PDI), an organisation not supported by GSF but working in the same area.”

“In addition, learning visits within the area served as a source of motivation for our natural leaders and helped in making them participate actively in the project,” said Saini.

The pre-national level verification exercise by the Malawi GSF team followed the same process that the national level team will use in terms of document review, selection of villages and verification forms used.

Since 2014, the Malawi programme’s focus has shifted from villages to making T/As open defecation free, a more meaningful way to contribute towards creating an ODF Malawi, according to programme Chief in the country Amsalu Negussie.

In Malawi, the first T/A to attain the much-sought after-status was Mwase of Kasungu. The second was Kaduya of Phalombe district where GSF supported projects are being implemented.

However, before an official declaration by a national level verification team, T/A Kaduya lost its status to floods and heavy rains that hit fifteen of the country’s twenty eight districts and destroyed property including latrines early this year.