Story so far

Follow the story of The Big Dig week by week. Here you’ll find a weekly round up of all the action from the field wrapped up in one neat package especially for you.

There’s just 13 weeks until The Big Dig brings clean water gushing from the ground in Kaniche and Bokola villages, the first of many communities where lives will be transformed forever thanks to your support.

The story starts now, June 18th, and every week you can track the progress we’re making in one hit, right here. We’ll hand pick the best of the posts, carefully selecting just some of the amazing stories and photography coming direct from the field and compose it just for you every Friday. So if time is not on your side, make sure you make a quick visit to the story so far before the weekend gets going – it’ll be sure to get it off to a good start.

Story so far

Week by week, you can watch as people's lives are transformed forever.

  • Week 13: a big week for Bokola and Kaniche

    The Bid Dig project came to a head this week with drilling taking place in both Kaniche and Bokola. If drilling for water was successful, the lives of the communities in the village would be changed forever.

    From Michael’s post earlier in the week about the threat posed by the Bokola scoop, and subsequent news that the sccop had collapsed, it was clear that the new boreholes couldn’t come soon enough.

    The drilling teams arrived in Bokola on Tuesday and a WaterAid team was at the drilling site, tweeting and reporting back live on the progress. The drilling wasn’t without setbacks; the tension, emotion and celebrations of the day were captured in full in Jeremy’s blog from Bokola.

    The next day in Kaniche, success with drilling came sooner than it had the day before. But the celebrations were no less euphoric.

    The excitement and importance of the drilling was all captured on video. Boyce describes how the drilling progressed and just what the new wells will mean to the residents of the villages.

    Weeks don’t come much bigger!

  • Week 12: Inspection and borehole preparation

    The start of the week saw a visit from the WaterAid team to Bokola and Kaniche. They witnessed first hands the effects of the water shortage on the scoop and were shocked at the quality of water that the villagers have been forced to drink.

    But they also saw great progress with projects taking place in the villages. A number of latrines were finished this week including this one from Howard complete with instructions! Preparations have been underway for the vital borehole building with all members of the community taking part.

    Next week will be a big one for the villagers, when drilling for water gets under way. Be sure to stay tuned for live updates and video of the drilling to follow soon after!

  • Week 11: progress on construction

    Latrine at Thavite primary school

    There has been good progress with construction this week, with more latrines completed and work continuing on a vital facility at  Thavite primary school.

    Shortly after the collapse of the scoop in Bokola and it’s re-deepening by nine year old Alinafe, our partner staff arrived to test contamination levels of water from the scoop. And it wasn’t just the human residents of Bokola who have been drinking from the scoop!

    Affects of dirty water and the current WaterAid projects will have on future generations in the area was highlighted both in Angharad’s post and also our latest video, which describes the devastating affect contaminated water has had on the families of Bokola and Kaniche.

  • Week 10: How deep is your latrine?

    How deep is your latrine?

    This week we saw great progress with the establishment of a water committee in Kaniche and the checking of latrine standards in Boyce’s ‘How deep is your latrine?’ video.

    We ended the week with Michael’s powerful post, ‘Faith’s five lives’, which served to reinforce and remind us all that this amazing progress can’t have come soon enough. Faith might not get a sixth life.

  • Week 9: Visitors

    Planning for the arrival of the water point really moved up a gear this week.  In Kaniche there was a visit from a Water Ministry engineer who spent time teaching the newly-formed Water Committee the inner workings of their boreholes.

    In Bokola the poor state of the scoop drew the attention of a visiting media team who were shocked at what they saw.

    We also shared Falison’s story, we met Falison on our most recent trip.  In a short, touching film, Falison talks about his hopes for the future and the hardship he faces today.

  • Week 8: Planning for water

    Bokola community meeting

    This week the communities really started getting ready for the arrival of water, which is now just a few short weeks away.  This week we shared a film which we made last time we were in Malawi which shows how the community got together to agree the best places for boreholes to be dug.

    In Bokola the community met to begin planning how they will take care of their water source when it is installed.  Long term care of the watersource falls to a committee of community members who will ensure that the watersource works, is kept clean and that everybody pays a fair share of the upkeep costs, this work is vital to the long term sustainabilty of the project and really demonstrates how the community are already taking ownership.

    Unlike Bokola there is a supply of water in Kaniche, but it is a fast flowing, and often dirty river.



  • Week 7: tipping point

    a bucket of dirty water

    This has been week of contrast.  Both Nathan and Michael have seen and talked of a real sense of progress and inspiration especially as the latrine building and hygiene education parts of the project are well on the way to being.

    On the other hand, the dry season continues, and the need for clean water in Bokola in particular is a real cause for concern.

  • Week 6: Wow you did it

    children collecting water

    Today we reached a huge milestone, smashing our original target of raising £1.2million for the poeple of Malawi, which is amazing news. There’s no stopping us now! We have extended our programme of work to reach another 35,000 people so please continue to give, share and follow the story.

    Every day in the villages of Bokola and Kaniche the water shortage worsens, which means daily life gets tougher for everybody. A sad fact of life is that children have to grow up quickly in Malawi and for many the arrival of the summer holidays simply means more hard work.

  • Week 5: £1,000,000


    What a week. Today, Friday 20th July, day 33 of 93, The Big Dig tipped over the £1,000,000 milestone. WOW. From everyone in Bokola and Kaniche, zikomo kwambiri – THANK YOU.

    This week see how young and old get busy with building latrines, cooking for siblings, building bricks and protecting scoop holes. And read the full round up of the week if you have a few minutes to spare.


  • Week 4: A concerted effort in the face of adversity

    Mary digging

    Human capacity in the face of adversity is prety amazing and we’ve seen it in spades this week.

    With Mary digging her latrine, Grace getting ready to mould bricks, Howard helping out and Mr. Khombe completing the first latrine in Kaniche, demonstrating just a few of the amazing efforts happening in Bokola and Kaniche.

    We saw baby Winard make it home after a five day stay in hospital – admitted because of diarrhoea caused by the dirty water his mother had no choice but to give him at just eight months old.

    And we were reminded of the vanishing water sources - which will continue to get worse and worse.

    Read the full round up of week four and please, share, donate, continue to watch.

  • Week 3:

    mother and baby

    Progress and peril

    As the story unfolds we are starting to really see into the lives of the people of Bokola and Kaniche, especially the children.

    The big story this week was the urgent rush to hospital for baby Winard who had become critically ill due to diarrhea.  As he is now being weaned Winard is espeically at risk from illnesses picked up from drinking dirty water, we will do our best to follow his story over the next few weeks.  We also saw how children like Zephenia, Powelo and Paulina work to buy and maintain their own school uniforms.

    In both villages there has been great progress on hygene education with a cross village learning trip and the installation of latrines.  We also met the amazing  Mrs Mwanza who is leading the charge in Bokola village, overseeing building works and  leading reflection meetings.

    Worryingly, in Bokola the water shortage worsens.

    Here in the UK your amazing generosity means we have already reached £630,000 in donations.

    If this story continues to inspire you, read the full blog post and please share it with your friends on facebook and twitter.  Your donations and your voice are vital to the success of this project.

    Thank you

  • Week 2:

    Faith Mbena

    An amazing start

    Almost two weeks ago, this thing called The Big Dig launched. For us here at WaterAid it was a BIG moment.  Two weeks in, 26 posts to the blog, it’s clear there’s lots changing.

    The vanishing water sources of Kaniche and Bokola are causing increasing hardship and a real sense of worry; a feeling perfectly expressed with heartwarming emotion in Bokola’s song of pain.  But progress is already coming as inspiring leaders like Mr Khombe work tirelessly to deliver latrines and engage the community in the amazing changes taking place.

    Most importantly, we are already seeing amazing stories of hope as children like the beautiful Faith show us why this blog is so special, and how the photos sent from our field officers Michael & Nathan give us all something to think about.

    To read a fuller account of week 2 please visit our main blog

  • Week 1:

    Find out what to expect from The Big Dig blog

    Angharad McKenzie, Head of Supporter Development at WaterAid launches The Big Dig. Read her post to find out what makes The Big Dig a world’s first and how you can get involved to change the lives of 134,000 people across rural Malawi.

UKaidSecure payments

Every pound you donate before 18 September will be doubled by the UK Government – so we can give twice as much help. If you are a UK taxpayer you can also add Gift Aid to your donation at no cost to you. £10 + Government matching = £20. Plus Gift Aid = £22.50 = more lives transformed.

Every penny we raise through The Big Dig Appeal will help to transform lives forever in Malawi.

Be part of The Big Dig

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Meet some of the amazing people whose lives you can help to transform.

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