For example, many Malawians who live in the semi-urban areas of the capital city, many homes do not even have the facility of drinking water or running water. Mary Kooneka, a woman living this is area, every day has to make frequent trips to a nearby kiosk in her Mchezi neighborhood with cash to pay to the attendant. The Kiosk is manually operate and during those hours, that is three hours in the morning and three hours in the evening, a lot of congestion was common and along with this increasing Covid crisis spreading. It was getting difficult day by day, as the costs varied according to the Kiosks, costing one Malawi kwacha per liter of water. It made the situation even worse by making it difficult in engaging in the increased hygiene and hand washing practices as advised by the Government at that time to help mitigate the risk of Corona virus spread.
Chrissy Kawanga, a former kiosk manager said that she used to receive cash directly from the ones who came to get water filled, which was a very risky attribute at that time. In reaction to public concerns, the Lilongwe Water Board (LWB) began the installation of E-Madzi kiosks, fully-automated systems allowing users to draw water using an e-card. The E-Madzi kiosks gives residents complete access to water at any time in the day. This system also enabled a 65 per cent reduction in the water costs as there was no longer a need for an attendant and there was no wastage of water. About 8750 citizens from few of the city’s vulnerable neighborhood was able to access water with improved hygiene practices and started the practice of hand washing methods.
The Government supported the installation of these automated kiosks throughout the installation of public places all across the city led by Lilongwe City Council. Training awareness campaigns on hand washing methods and using the social distance norms and supply of protective equipment for the LWB frontline staff were also provided.
The E-Madzi kiosks have simplified the way they now manage water kiosks, especially, that they do not need an employee from the water board to be available to sell water and receive cash while ensuring water is available all the time, said John Maweja, a Lilongwe Water Board kiosk technician. The E-Madzi system was comprised of mainly three elements , that is, a smart card, a dispenser unit and a water management system. It was installed in every kiosks and it operated through electronic water management devices. The smart card given used Radio frequency identification ( RFID ) technology to allow users to draw water by just tapping on the dispenser unit. Consumers with a smart card had to just tap on the unit, and the credit was deducted from the card balance to the exact amount of water collected. The Water Management System Server arrests all the reports from remote kiosks to allow LWB system administrators to tenuously monitor the performance and water usage of the kiosk through an easy-to-use web-based console.
This system is a very useful platform which ensure the continuity of water supply services to some of the most vulnerable communities in Lilongwe, at times when water was most needed, said Odete Muximpua, World Bank task team leader of the LWSP. He also said that, the system minimized human contact, thus reducing the risk of corruption from taps during opening and closing, and cash payment transactions at the kiosk.