Rapid Assessment of Groundwater Availability and Recommendations for Alternative Source Options for Drinking Water Use

Water for People
Chikwawa, Malawi
Position Type: 
Organization Type: 
NGO/Civil Society
Experience Level: 
Not Specified


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Water For People Malawi is implementing is WASH programme in Chikwawa District with an intention of reaching everyone in the district by the year 2020. This vision will be achieved through the provision of water using various technologies, the common one being the supply of water through boreholes and in some areas through gravity fed systems. From the 2018 FLOW monitoring results, water supply coverage (intermediate and high level of service) is at around 84.9%.

From the quick analysis as to why the remaining, 15.1% is not yet covered, it was found that these areas are in high saline zones and others located in dry zones such that reaching these communities is not easy. For example, in Traditional Authority (TA) Ngabu, there are a number of areas located in dry zones where as in TA Lundu, there are a number of wells with high salinity.

In FY 2018, Water For People embarked on exploratory deep bores to assess if fresh water could be found and serve some communities faced with the problems highlighted above. The idea was that once fresh water with high yield was found, water could be reticulated using solar power to the communities not yet accessing potable water. However, after 5 attempts in 3 of the four communities that were earmarked for the exploratory boreholes, the exercise was cancelled as the driller repeatedly encountered dry aquifers up to depths of 175 meters.

Considering that Water For People is still committed to reach everyone in Chikwawa by the year 2020, Water for People would therefore like to carry out an assessment to better understand the constraints and opportunities of ground water resource in Chikwawa. The study will also assist the organization to understand better source and technological options that can be applied in Chikwawa if groundwater is not a viable option.


The main objective of the study is to understand the groundwater potential for remaining populations in the Chikwawa district without improved water service and recommend alternative source options if groundwater is not viable.  The specific objectives include:

1. Synthesis of existing information and data.  Assess all available data, guidance, regulations, and studies relevant for understanding the groundwater resource available for drinking water in Chikwawa. 

2. Development of conceptual model for drilling.  Characterize and map groundwater resources available in Chikwawa, including determination of groundwater potential compared to the demand.  Consideration of groundwater recharge mechanisms and known groundwater quality limitations in Chikwawa should be included.  The conceptual model will be based on existing information and data, along with data that can be collected from existing wells during one trip to Chikwawa. If the assessment reveals additional data is needed, the limitations of the characterization should be clearly stated along with recommendations for additional data collection.

3. Actionable recommendations for future source development.  Perform alternatives analysis of groundwater and other source options that are viable from a technical and cost perspective to meet the demand of the remaining population without water service in Chikwawa.  Recommendations can include a phased approach that provide clear actionable recommendations for the immediate future (current and next fiscal years) and refined recommendations for long-term planning after additional information is obtained through drilling.


Looking at the urgency of the short-term recommendations, it is anticipated that the assignment will commence in January 2019 with short-term actionable recommendations drafted in March 2019 and final reporting completed by April 30, 2019.   


Chikwawa District is in the southern region of Malawi which has a population of more than 484,000 people. Chikwawa is approximately 54 kilometers south of Blantyre city and is considered to have one of the most inhospitable environments in Malawi. Chikwawa experiences mostly tropical climate, and experiences generally unreliable and variable rainfall ranging from about 967.6 mm maximum to 170 mm minimum rainfall due to being situated in the Shire Highland leeward sides. Temperatures are generally high, with a maximum of about 36 °C in November and a minimum of 20 °C in July.  According to the District Strategic Investment Plan of 2011, Chikwawa’s life expectancy is 42 for males and 48 for females, with high incidences of preventable diseases. Morbidity is very high in the under-5 age group, with a morbidity rate of 49%. The maternal morbidity rate is 3.6%. The leading causes of morbidity are malaria, eye infections, acute respiratory infections, skin conditions and diarrhea. Mortality rates in the district vary across age groups: the infant mortality rate is 157/1,000, the under-5 mortality rate is 205/1,000 and the maternal mortality rate is 1200/100,000.

Water For People is implementing its programs in communities without access to safe water supply with a focus in TAs Makhwira, Maseya, Chapananga, Ngabu and Lundu.


The first step of this assignment will involve searching for additional information that is relevant to this assignment.  The following list includes known documentation that can be made available. Additional documentation and background studies are likely available through further research.

·       Drilling / well records and logs (positive and negative) – not currently available electronically

·       Water quality data from wells

·       Past hydrogeologic studies 

·       Monitoring data that identifies communities without water service

Various relevant files that are currently available electronically can be made available upon request to klatham@waterforpeople.org.


Other partners involved in providing water service to all families in Chikwawa include:

Charity: Water – A partner since 2007 and funder of the program

Chikwawa District Water Development Office

Regional Water Development office (south)

Traditional Authorities and Community members of Chikwawa District


The Offeror, in its proposal, shall, as a minimum, include the following:

Experience.  The Offeror should describe its experience, in the field of hydrogeology and understanding groundwater capacity to supply drinking water systems.  Experience should include work in East Africa and drinking water systems typical in Malawi.  Although the work will focus on greater understanding of the groundwater capacity, the potential for surface water resources will also need to be considered when analyzing and recommending preferred source options for the target population. 

Individual Consultant Experience. The Offeror should include detailed CVs of the proposed team, highlighting the experience requested above.

Technical Approach.  The Offeror should provide a brief description and timeline of the planned technical approach that will be included in the Work Plan.

Cost Estimate.  Please present a cost estimate for the proposed work that includes levels of effort for key staff and expected travel expenses. 

Due Date. Electronic proposals shall be submitted to Kelly Latham (klatham@waterforpeople.org) no later than 8:00 am Mountain Time on 17 December 2018.