Lack of access to clean water is a big challenge in rural areas and accounts for most outbreaks of such killer diseases as cholera and dysentery especially in public places such as open markets in rural trading centers where sanitation is usually a challenge. In such places, people, mostly traders and buyers end up drinking untreated and oftentimes contaminated water.
Lucia Phiri, 36 and mother of one, from Chichitike village, T/A Chiwere in Dowa district is providing safe water as a business at Mvera Trading Center in the district, thanks to a simple water treatment system being produced and marketed by Safi Water Treatments Limited.
Lucia Phiri is an enterprising woman who after finishing her Form IV at Mvera Community Day Secondary School (MCDSS) in 2005 decided to go into business. She started off by opening a saloon business at Mvera Trading Center using practical skill she had gained by working as a helper in someone’s saloon at Mvera. Noting that her customers spend hours with her as she does their hairs and that they do need to quench their thirsts during the process, Lucia started packaging freezes and water for sale. The water was, until the advent of SAFI water filters, drawn from a local borehole that serves the trading center, packaged, chilled and sold without putting the water through any treatment process.
In 2016 however, Lucia received a SAFI water filter for her household use from her brother. As the brother was explaining how to set up and use the filter and its benefits, Lucia quickly noticed that the filter could help her business tremendously in that she would now be packaging much cleaner water. Her freezes would also be made from clean water. She immediately started to filter the water she was selling. However, the small filter was too slow for the demand she was faced with. A few months later, Lucia was informed that there was a bigger water filter which she quickly purchased. With the bigger water filter, Lucia makes MK3,000 per day from the sale of clean water alone. Water sales on busy days like Saturdays do reach MK7,000, meaning that Lucia makes MK106,000 a month from the sale of purified water.
The significance of Lucia’s water filtering business became noticeable this year when the current cholera outbreak in the country, resulted in the ban of the sale of precooked and pre-packed goods in markets. District health inspectors visited rural markets to enforce the ban. Arriving at Lucia’s shop to enforce the ban on the sale of her water, they were pleasantly surprised to note that she was in fact the only supplier of clean, safe, pure water in the market and Mvera trading center as a whole. “Imagine people do eat their meals at home and come to my shop to drink clean water after the meal! She told them. I am in fact saving the people from drinking contaminated water.” She further encouraged the inspectors to do more in educating the communities about the importance of drinking clean filtered and safe water which is only available at her shop and that they should also encourage households to purchase SAFI water filters. It is good to note though that Mvera has not registered any cholera case this season.
about the future, Lucia says “I want
to start bottling my water. For this I would appreciate support in identifying
an affordable source of appropriate water bottles”. Lucia sees her
clean, safe and pure water reaching all
remote markets around Mvera when she starts bottling her water. “The new and more efficient heavy duty water
filter is ideal for the dream I have”, she concludes.