A daily 12-hour quest for water now takes five minutes in Malawi, where new community water supplies are transforming life for nearly 9,000 people.

Despite having six children to take care of at home, Lydia has been forced to spend half her day waiting in line for water.

Instead of staying home with her two-year-old, Shameela, Lydia would have to leave at 4am to fetch water for her family.

The nearest borehole was just a 15-minute walk away, but she often had to queue for more than 14 hours before she could get a share.

She said: “The queue was so long that I had to wait the whole day just to get two buckets of water for my family.

“When I became tired of waiting in the queue I would swap with one of my children. Often it would be after 6pm by the time I got some water.

“The only time I would be able to get it without too much waiting is if I left at 1am when everyone else was sleeping.”

This draining daily mission had a knock-on effect on the family’s income, their basic hygiene needs and even the children’s education.

Lydia, 40, said: “I was not able to help my husband on the farm because most of the time was spent fetching water for the family.

“We couldn’t take a proper bath and the children sometimes would not go to school because I had no water to wash their school uniforms.”

Lydia (centre) and her family in Malawi

Lydia (centre) and her family in Malawi

Now, Islamic Relief Malawi has installed a series of easily accessible taps – including in Lydia’s village – with plentiful water supplies and no need to queue.

Funded by Islamic Relief UK, the project is supplying water to 8,750 people in seven villages across Nyambi in Machinga District, southern Malawi.

Lydia said: “Now I have enough water for my family. We can bathe properly and the children are always clean.

“I can go to the farm and help my husband with our only means of income and food.

“This year, we are faced with drought and did not harvest enough food. However, I’ve been able to walk down to another garden by the river and plant more food there to supplement our needs.”

Lydia’s husband, Ismael, said: “I feel like I have my wife back. We can work together in the field unlike before when she spent most of her time trying to fetch water for us.

“And now I can go out confidently because I can bathe daily, and my clothes are clean.”

Read more about the work of Islamic Relief Malawi here.