Last year, we announced plans to double our Dispensers for Safe Water footprint to help address the enormous unmet need for safe water globally. We are proud to share that we reached this goal as of June 2023 with the successful installation of over 24,000 new chlorine dispensers in Uganda and Malawi. In total, Evidence Action now has a network of more than 52,000 dispensers providing communities access to safe water, reaching a staggering 9.8 million people.
We’re now reaching more than double the number of people with safe water access, compared to only 18 months ago.
The need for this rapid expansion was pressing. UNICEF estimates that diarrhea alone kills 33 children every day in Uganda, and these infections can be attributed to unsafe drinking water. In Malawi, the country loses $57 million annually to health costs and productivity loss due to poor sanitation and hygiene. Our chlorine dispensers provide communities a low-cost, effective, and scalable solution for water treatment, which is shown to dramatically reduce all-cause under-five mortality – by about 25%.
From May 2022 through June 2023, we installed 12,161 dispensers across 11 districts in Uganda, and 12,222 dispensers across 7 districts in Malawi. This expansion was possible due to the dedicated efforts of more than 300 staff members, including full-time staff, temporary staff, and dispenser masons. Evidence Action’s dispensers now provide access to safe water to 10% of the total population of Uganda and 15% of the population of Malawi.
“Just like on any journey, we met several setbacks, such as the Ebola outbreak within Uganda just as we commenced with dispenser installation,” said Evidence Action Uganda Country Director Richard Kibuuka. The September 2022 Ebola outbreak was declared over by the Ugandan government in January 2023. During this period, increased risk of infection and safety measures such as restricted movements, challenged dispenser implementation. “We proactively leaned on our value of think big, act urgently to develop and execute an Ebola virus disease mitigation plan, readjusted our processes and staffing to ensure that we optimally achieved our expansion targets in a timely manner.”
The Evidence Action team in Malawi is also celebrating increasing safe water access to a total of more than 3 million people despite significant challenges. “We had three major bottlenecks — Cyclone Freddy, the cholera outbreak, and fuel scarcity — which affected the implementation,” said Evidence Action Malawi Country Director Benson Botha. “We navigated these considerable challenges of displacement, increasing health burdens, and damage to local infrastructure, which served to further underscore the importance of safe water programming amid increasing climate threats.” The Ministry of Health recognized the value of Evidence Action’s dispensers, honoring us as the Best Innovative CSO in WASH Sector in Malawi at the 2023 WASH Innovation Fair.
This milestone is a critical step in the achievement of Evidence Action’s strategic objective of doubling our impact by 2024 – we’re now reaching more than double the number of people with safe water access, compared to only 18 months ago. Yet we’re not stopping there, building on recent lessons, we’re aiming to further expand safe water access, both through exploring expansion of chlorine dispensers to other geographies, and developing other technologies that can better reach urban and peri-urban populations such as in-line chlorination. Learn more about the impact of our safe water program, which implements scalable, lifesaving interventions for as little as $1.50 per person each year here.