The road to safe and affordable drinking water

Oct 17, 2017

As government and its partners continue to prioritize the provision of portable, clean and safe drinking water to all as per the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the private sector is also playing a key role in the promotion of water treatment products as a way of ensuring clean water and sanitation to households in Malawi.

With support from the Malawi Innovation Challenge Fund (MICF), Arkay Plastics Limited and its partner, SAFI Water Treatment Solutions, started manufacturing locally a Household Water Treatment and Storage Unit that aims at providing a simple yet effective point of use solution to the challenges of poor quality drinking water that plagues many parts of the country.

Studies indicate that consistent use of Household Water Treatment Systems (HWTS) products and practices reduce the risk of contracting water borne diseases, e.g. diarrhea, by as much as 50%. Yet, despite the compelling benefits for personal health, approximately 67% of Malawian households do not treat their drinking water adequately (10.7 million people). The Water Treatment and Storage Unit, which is a first of its kind to be produced in the country aims to target and provide access to clean and portable water to 50,000 households across Malawi.

The water treatment and storage units are deemed being an important step for MICF in support of the country’s private sector development and poverty alleviation.

The new product has been a clear indication of Malawian firms’ ability to develop new innovate ideas and carry the associated risks whilst ensuring the inclusive nature of the project by involving female entrepreneurs as part of its marketing and sales program.

The product targets households in semi urban and rural Malawi who do not have access to a regular water supply and in-house connections. The project has targeted retail customers in the urban and semi urban areas of the country who are willing to procure a high quality, affordable water treatment product and vulnerable groups such as mothers, HIV/AIDS patients, school going pupils and other groups that are assisted through NGO and governmental health programs. 

Arkay Plastics and its partner SAFI, have positioned the Water Filter devices as an attractive commodity to the local households by making it relatively inexpensive to purchase at a price point which is 60% lower than the price for similar imported filters, making it affordable for low income families.

To further ensure that the Water Treatment and Storage Units are marketed effectively, Arkay and SAFI have trained frontline staff handling the sales and have also engaged specialized sales agents to help identify the right channels of distribution of the product to the masses.

The project which commenced implementation in January 2015 and is expected to be completed by end 2017, is expected to create 51 new jobs and will also address behavioral change in water, hygiene and sanitation among its target customers for long term sustainability.

Arkay Plastics is one the 19 private sector firms currently leading the implementation of various agribusiness, manufacturing and logistics projects with support from MICF, aimed at strengthening the private sector’s ability to serve as the engine of economic growth.

MICF is a competitive, transparent mechanism that provides grant finance for innovative projects and inclusive business models proposed by the private sector active in Malawi’s agricultural, manufacturing and logistics sectors. It is supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Department for International Development (UKAid), the German Development Bank (KfW) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

Benefits of the HWFS


* Increased access to quality, lower cost table top filters targeting 50,000 household that will benefit from improved health;

* Improved health translates into improved economic productivity. WHO estimates that every $1.00 invested in hygiene and sanitation results in $9.00 in economic benefits;

* Economic savings made through import substitution, especially of foreign exchange;

* Additional foreign exchange earnings through export of Malawian products to the region;

* Increased economic opportunities to resellers of the filters, especially female entrepreneurs using a “Tupperware” business model



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