Monday, June 23, 2008

Village Support Group establishes a Community Seed Bank

The IHFS project has been distributing improved varieties of seed such as maize, groundnuts, pigeon peas, soya, cassava and sweet potatoes. This initative is meant to assist groups of 50 targeted poor and vulnerable households, to access a variety of improved crops to increase production and food security.

This year members of Mulunguzi VSG in Nkando, Mulanje have organized themselves to have a seed revolving and solidarity chain so that they continue to share the seed among themselves, even after the project phases out. This is a positive sign towards sustainability and independence of the group. Instead of them waiting to be supplied with more seed next year, the group members have agreed to pay back 2 kgs of each of the seed that was received. The seed is kept in an improved granary. The project has trained the group in post harvest handling and crop storage. This seed will be distributed to other members of the group who may not have harvested enough this year to be able to store enough seed. Excess seed after re-distributing among the members of the group will go to other equally poor households in the community that are not in the group. This is a multiplier effect for the project, because the seed that was meant for the group of 50 will not reach others outside of this group, such that the improved crop varieties that are being promoted will spread within the community. The project is promoting this initiative for other group to emulate this example.

Author: Thokozani Mwapasa

Friday, June 13, 2008

Strengthen rights and gender-based initiatives for civil society groups

Four civil society groups conducted open days campaigns to advocate for gender and HIV/AIDS rights, the rights for the elderly and disabled, women and children alike.

During these open day campaigns, drama groups and dance troupes where involved in dissemination of information on rights and HIV/AIDS in addition to speeches that were made by high powered delegations from relevant public and private entities.

In attendance to one of the functions was the Principle Secretary for Ministry of men and women with disabilities.
In total, 11,000 people attended the open days of which 68% were women and children. This means that the message and pieces of information that were disseminated to the participants fell on the fertile ground as the target group dominated in attendance.

In one of the functions that were conducted by OWACO, 4 wheelchairs and 20 pairs of crutches were donated to 24 disabled people of whom 18 are women.

In a bid to establish and strengthen links between the civil society groups and the public as well as private entity,
Government ministries of women and children affairs, ministry of the disabled, ministry of health and HIV/AIDS, Society of people living with AIDS, NAC, as well as district assemblies were invited to take parting the campaigns. Representing the government ministries and departments and private sectors were District Commissioners, principle Secretaries and heads of departments and private sector CEOs.

These open days were conducted by Four organisations namely; CAPLA (Care for People Living with AIDS), Orphans and Widows Awarenes and Care Organisation (OWACO), Health Initiative for All (HIFA) and MIRACLE organization. These organisations have their registration certificates with the registrar general of the Malawi Government, a constitution, and a three - five years strategic plan.
Author: Themba Phiri

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Water in Kalumba

Water is life, they say. Indeed clean water that is safe and free from disease causing organisms improves the health of women and children in the community by reducing incidences of diarrhoeal diseases and skin infections.
Miriam (27) in the picture expresses her joy and how the availability of safe water from a protected shallow well has changed her life. By reducing the distance and time taken to fetch water, women are able to do more household chores and are able to participate in other development activities including time to prepare nutritious food and feed their children
With the assistance from ADRA and funding from Canada, the community protected shallow wells. Fifteen water wells have been dug and provide safer and cleaner water. The aim was to reduce waterborne diseases such as Cholera and other gastro infections and to reduce the burden of women as a result of fetching water from sources that are very far. Water wells provision has also reduced the time that women spend when they go to fetch water from other water sources by almost half. This scenario has enabled women to fully participate and make decisions in other development activities for both the community and at family level.

Author: Dorcas Kanthenga

Friday, June 6, 2008

"Women empowerment starts with us"

Women Empowerment Project (WEP) started on 1st April 2007 with the aim of facilitating women empowerment through promotion of their rights, improvement in health status and implementation of self supporting income generating initiatives. The project targets poor vulnerable women. These include widows struggling to survive, those that are taking care of orphans and the chronically ill, the disabled and those that are denied access to resources for economic empowerment.

Main activities include;
Ø Trainings in Health, Water and Sanitation, Gender and Human Rights.
Ø Adult literacy.
Ø Home gardening and compost manure making.
Ø Provision of portable water.
Ø Goat rearing.
Ø Provision of maize mills for Income Generating Activities.

Picture above: Women Empowerment Project photograph of Traditional Leaders, Project staff and ADRA Programs Director Mr. Micheal Usi

One of the strong points in the project has been the positive response and support from Traditional Leaders. These are the entry point as well as custodians of tradition and culture. Some negative traditional rituals involving risky sexual practices contributes to HIV/AIDS infection rates. A strong tradition persists to maintain the low status of girls and women and this extends to marriage and throughout the life cycle. This contributes to increase in violence against women. These negative deep rooted cultures affects community development. With this background, the project first step was to sensitize and empower the 20 participating traditional leaders to fully understand and participate in fulfilling the objective in empowering women. This is working well because most village heads are in the forefront participating in development activities. The traditional leaders have been drilled on women’s role in community and importance of encouraging men to support the women empowerment initiatives. Once the leaders are empowered it becomes much easier to reach to the grass root. With time, there is hope that these deep rooted negative cultures will be a song of the past.

Community leaders in action:

Picture above: Village Headwoman Waruma and beneficiaries appreciating safe potable water..
Picture above: Village Headman Ng’oma and his wife in their home vegetable garden.

Picture above: Village Headman Namputu stressing a point during Gender and Human Rights workshop.

Author: Andiyesa Mhango