Khombe, the King of Kaniche

At 52 years old, Mr Khombe is an elderly gentleman in Malawian terms, but while certainly a gentleman, the Mr Khombe we saw today is still as strong as an ox and full of life as a man ten years his junior.

Mr Khombe is a village chief who has been a leading light throughout the The Big Dig.  Taking an active role in everything from hygiene education and latrine building to community mobilisation; he’s also one of the top men on the Waterpoint Committee.  As a carpenter and builder there are seemingly no end to this man’s talents. His energy, determination yet sense of fun are striking which makes him a great person to be around.

As the a local leader, he was one of the first people in Kaniche to adopt a composting latrine which turns human waste into a compost which can be used for agriculture.  The Kaniche approach to sanitation was for Mr Khombe to invite his neighbours to try out his ecosan toilet so they could see for themselves how easy it was to use, and how much nicer it was than walking to the bush.  A handy side effect of this was the amount of manure it generated, and Mr Khombe boasts of his two grain stores full of manure.

Making the most of waste, a pile of manure is ready to fertilise crops

large pile of manure

Once the community had decided to adopt Ecosan toilets Mr Khombe lead from the front, building over 50 of Kaniche’s 120 latrines himself.  Your donations provided the cement and materials he needed to cast the slabs, line the holes and build the protective structure.

Overseeing pit construction

As a technically minded man, Mr Khombe loved the drilling process.  He was one of the first people to meet the drilling team and lead the discussions with the engineers as work progressed.  He has also made sure that the well maintenance fund is a healthy 40,000 Kwacha.  He seemed to be there mainly for civic reasons, but there was an obvious sense of intrigue and joy as the brutish trucks rolled into the village.

The drilling process in Kaniche

A drilling rig in Kaniche

Talking about the arrival of the boreholes he said;  ”In those days it was a story that one day we will have a borehole, but having seen with my own eyes, this something bringing happiness in me.”

When asked about the future Mr Khombe is optimistic, he hopes the location of borehole number one will help promote local business and that more eating places and tea shops will open in the market area.  He’s also confident more children will attend school more often that they won’t be struck down with diarrhea anywhere near as often.
Mr Khombe wanted to give you a message.  Here it is….

‘We are thanking them, thank you so much, we are their friends, we are only different in complexion, you are good people, you are mothers of Malawi, I thank Britain’

With Mr Khombe as a leader, it’s clear Kaniche is going to be okay.

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