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October 2016: An update from Soapboxer Sandra Virgo in Malawi…

As part of our collaboration with WaterAid on the Department for International Development-funded Deliver Life project, I have spent the past August and September in Malawi. The goal of the project is to improve Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) in sixteen rural health centres.

In the first couple of weeks of my trip, I worked with our data collectors and collaborators from WaterAid Malawi to adapt and translate questionnaires, checklists and interview questions. Then, once the data collectors were trained up, we descended on the rural health centres to carry out comprehensive needs assessments.

These needs assessments investigated all sorts of things: whether the facility had a functioning steriliser; whether the staff had ever had Infection Prevention training; what sort of toilets the heavily pregnant women would prefer to use; and lots more besides.

Now the data collection is all done and we are analysing the results. Already reports on the infrastructure at Linyangwa, Mtosa and Nayuchi facilities have been sent to WaterAid Malawi, so that they can inform some building work that must happen before the rainy season starts. The rest of the findings will inform further building work at the other thirteen facilities; as well as helping to make decisions on future interventions, for example Infection Prevention training.

It really is exciting to be on the ground with such a fast-moving and practical project and to know we will see the outcomes very soon!

Improvised HandwashingImprovised handwashing facility at a Malawi health centre where there are no sinks with taps next to the latrines.