ADRA Malawi partners in Machinga were impressed after visiting the Action for Social Change Program (ASC) activities in the district. The partners included government department’s representatives and those from non-governmental organizations. According to Justine Kumadzulo, ASC Machinga District Manager the objective of the visit was to familiarize partners with community based groups and their activities as part of the exit strategy.
Partners visited Alinafe Support Group in Traditinal Authority Kawinga. The group was formed in 1997 and in 2012 it was registered with Network of People Living with and AIDS in Malawi (NAPHAM). Members of this group said had undertaken different self-initiated campaigns to reduce stigma and discrimination for people living with HIV/AIDS. Group members provided evidence of reduced cases of stigma and discrimination and that the membership had been increased. By August 2014 the group had 38 members of which 4 were males.
|Alinafe Support Group members addressing partners|
Despite making gains in reducing stigma and discrimination, the groups faced challenges that included lack of self-support as it was solely relied on external support to carry out activities. It was also noted that young people were not members of the group. Poor male patronage was also a major concern as the group was dominated by women. Efforts have been made persuade men to join the group but none has worked.
Partners also visited the Mbonechera Cotton Association, comprising 1800 farmers. One of the tasks of the association is to lobby for lucrative markets and provide a platform for farmers to negotiate with government and other agro business agents. It was observed that some of the farmers in the association did not understand the purpose of the grouping. The leadership feared that most members expected instant results, whereby farmers thought they would have ready and lucrative markets for their produce but seemingly it was taking too long to realize this. Partners however, observed that the association was well organized and was set as an opportunity for progress in the area for future faming prospects.
And last to be visited was Mangamba reflect circle which was empowered by ADRA Malawi as an advocacy champion group. This group had been engaged in many advocacy activities including the fencing of Liwonde National Park to keep elephants at bay from destroying crops and threatening people’s lives.
|Mangamba REFLECT Circle addressing partners on advocacy activities undertaken|
The group told district partners that Mangamba Police Unit had only two police officers not enough to meet the security demand in the area. It was also discovered that suspects at the police unit were subjected to dehumanizing conditions and since police officers were part of the visiting team they reacted on the report and pledged to do something on the matter.
After the visit partners said in an interview that the trip was successful and full of lessons.
“It was important for ADRA to take us to their program impact areas where we saw the strengths and weaknesses of the groups. I hope my organization and others will do likewise,” said the Monitoring and Evaluation Officer from World Vision who declined to be named.
The Action for Social Change Program is being supported by Denmark to bring about individual and society change in Machinga, Mulanje, Lilongwe and Mzimba districts.