Educating sanitation professionals: moving from STEM to specialist training in higher education in Malawi
Achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) requires effective changes in multiple sectors including education, economics, and health. Malawi faces challenges in attaining the SDGs in general, and specifically in the sanitation sector. This paper aims to describe the existing landscape within public universities in Malawi to build a framework for training a cadre of locally trained experts. This is achieved by reviewing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) degree programmes and assessing the extent of inclusion of sanitation education. The historical compartmentalization of academic programmes has resulted in few programmes to build on. Deliberate investment is needed to build from the current STEM higher education landscape to an effective framework for training sanitation experts, especially female experts. For low-income countries such as Malawi, a cadre of ~17,600 locally trained sanitation experts may be needed, for which the current higher education landscape is not sufficient. Using the Centre of Excellence in Water and Sanitation at Mzuzu University in Malawi as a case study, this paper provides a model of sanitation education in low-income countries that: 1) provides an effective complementary contribution to delivering sanitation education; 2) links to overall SDGs, national policy, university goals, and localized needs; and 3) engages students, faculty, and communities in local research.
Between water stewardship and independent global water certification: learning from smallholder rice farmers, Karonga, Malawi
Cooperation and locally driven water management are at the forefront of food production water management for smallholder farmers in low-income countries. The aim of this paper was to critically reflect on the experiences of 5,819 smallholder rice farmers in Karonga District, Malawi, who were members of a farmers’ organization that achieved improved water stewardship, but could not achieve Alliance for Water Stewardship certification within a three-year project. The data for this paper were obtained through farmer and stakeholder interviews. The partnership attempted to bring together four parties: academics, farmers, local government, and a non-governmental organization. The farmers were trained by combining stewardship and certification topics through a train-the-trainer approach. The farmers’ organization primarily focuses on agribusiness; therefore, they did not have any water-related data or detailed farm boundaries from the large and dispersed group of farmers and could not obtain a collective water permit. Understanding water governance was difficult for many farmers. Furthermore, moving from stewardship to certification presented some financial challenges. Critical thinking and questioning are required, along with a deeper understanding of the local context, logistical hindrances, priorities, alternatives, culture, and science, to evaluate how projects are designed and partially succeed or fail from the perspective of low-income farmers in the Global South.
Evaluation of techniques for drying goat meat: moving local knowledge from fish to goat meat, Malawi
The need for high-iron-containing animal protein products that are safe, cheap, and suitable for dietary diversification within rural communities presents a development challenge in Malawi. Although fish drying is widely practised, the drying of high-iron-containing goat meat is not well established. In this study, techniques for drying goat meat were established by borrowing from local practices of fish preservation in Malawi. Goat meat and fish samples in pieces of varying sizes were prepared as follows: 1) 6 per cent vinegar soak; 2) 6 per cent lemon juice soak; 3) salt dry rub; or 4) no marinade. The study results describe 576 samples, dried with a solar dehydrator (n = 192), an electric oven (n = 192), or a wood-fired drum oven (n = 192). The costs were lower for drying fish than for drying goat meat. Although the solar dehydrator offered good potential for drying goat meat, the presence of mould and insects on the samples and the long drying time were trade-offs. Inconsistent product quality was found with the drum oven, necessitating its further refinement. The electric oven was not suitable for rural communities. Within the larger context of supporting rural communities in Southern African countries through innovative developments to improve their diets and health, processing small pieces of goat meat with the solar dehydrator during the dry season (in line with practical national food safety guidelines that should be established) combined with promoting consumption of the product in the rainy season offers the greatest potential.