mWater is a free WASH data management platform used across the globe. It allows users to flexibly map and monitor information about water and sanitation infrastructure across time, effortlessly share key information within and across sectors, and additionally record any other data with customized surveys that users can design online.
BASEflow is a Malawian social enterprise working to improve the sustainability of groundwater sources for rural populations to access safe drinking water. BASEflow uses mWater as their primary WASH data management platform and, between 2017 and 2019, provided technical backstopping support to a network of 354 local government extension workers to facilitate the national mapping of more than 120,000 water points across Malawi, using mWater; thereby creating the most comprehensive water point infrastructure database in Malawi’s history.
After a year of drought in 2018, an Intense Tropical Cyclone Idai, made landfall in Mozambique on 6th March 2019, causing torrential rains to southeastern Malawi, enhancing the risk for widespread floods. Widespread flooding began on 9 March, causing substantial, in some cases irreparable, damage to 288,371 households across 14 districts; this negatively affected 975,600 people – an estimated 460,000 being children – displaced 86,976 people rendering them displaced or homeless. 60 people were reported to have been killed, while a further 3 were reported missing, their bodies never found.
Following the Declaration of National Disaster, the WASH Cluster, part of Malawi Government’s post-disaster response and management apparatus, was activated to mount a coordinated response effort to address the WASH-related challenges in flood victim camps and surrounding communities; BASEflow was one of the participating organizations in the WASH cluster.
During cluster meeting discussions, it was noted that, in the immediate aftermath of the floods, there was not only substantial damage to water infrastructure within the flood zone, but there was also the added complication of uncertainty over the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) residing in the camps. This lack of data made it difficult to allocate resources to vital WASH activities and, without actionable data, there would be a significant risk of wasting resources through misallocations.
Bringing their experience and access to the water point database, BASEflow volunteered their support to the response effort and, with the help of other development partners and collaborators, leveraged resources to address the twin challenges abovementioned by providing and using data-related products to guide a coordinated emergency response.