Friday, January 30, 2009

Minister of Information participates in handover of boreholes.

The Honorable Patricia Kaliati, Minister of Information, underlined the importance of the water interventions that ADRA conducts in Mulanje. ADRA’s activities in the scope of the Integrated Health and Food Security Project provided 129 water points and a gravitational water system in two districts in Malawi.

ADRA Malawi recently officially handed over 21 newly drilled boreholes, 5 shallow wells and 25 rehabilitated boreholes to Mulanje District Assembly and the local community as part of the exit of the 3 year Danida Funded Health and Food Security Project (IHFS). The water points will now be managed by village committees with the support of the government water department through the assembly.

The colorful handover ceremony which was graced by the presence of the Ministry of Information who is also Member of Parliament for the area Hon. Patricia Kaliati, the Director of Planning and Development for Mulanje District and other officials from government departments and other NGOs. In her remarks Kaliati commended ADRA Malawi for development work the organization is doing in the area. She challenged the community to take care of the water points and fight against vandalism of the borehole parts.

According to the District Director of Planning and Development, water is the districts second priority and that the gesture by ADRA and DANIDA would be followed by expected care of the water points by the communities, led by the district assembly.

The project is in 2 districts and has in total sunk, rehabilitated or dug 129 water points and established a gravity fed water system which has 3 outlets into the community. Each water point serves about 450 to 500 people. Therefore touched the lives of about 60,000 people with safer water. Each water point has a committee of 10 people who have been trained in water point management, hygiene and sanitation.

As the saying goes ‘Water is life’. ADRA Malawi had through this 3 year project touched and improved the quality of life for about 60,000 people. The gains of having access to clean water can not be over emphasized. Not only will this important resource help reduce cases of water borne diseases caused by drinking contaminated water, but there are also socio-economic benefits are the amount of time rural women and children spend in a day collecting water from distant and often polluted sources is reduced and they can contribute more to other livelihood strategies.

Author: Thoko Mwapasa
IHFS Project Manager
ADRA Malawi

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Manure usage an alternative to increase crop production

The initiative by ADRA Malawi, LEFAM Project to form farmers clubs in 2007 was very much welcomed in the communities. Having groups receive farm inputs that included, fertilizer and seeds, brought smiles to the farmer club members as well as the communities. Apart from farm inputs, farmers were trained on manure making as an alternative for fertilizer. They were also mandated to share seeds to a new club that would be formed in the second year. Two years down the line, this initiative has demonstrated that food security can be achieved.

Despite some hindrances like erratic rains, pests and diseases, farmers were determined to share what they had harvested, as per agreed during the establishment of the clubs, with the new farmer’s clubs that were formed. Sharing of seed meant more people having access to good and reliable seed.

The farmers applauded the partnership they have with ADRA because they have come to realize that they would benefit tremendously; through knowledge and skills thereby improving household food levels.

However, negative attitude on effectiveness of manure from most farmers proved a challenge for ADRA. Most farmers felt that fertilizer is the only source of fertility for the soil. While this was the case, ADRA would not provide fertilizer to the second set of farmers and others who might have joined the clubs. Farmers felt farming without fertilizer is as bad as not cultivating at all because at the end of the day they would not yield anything tangible.

But this was a battle that had to be won. And it had to be won by making communities aware that manure not only enhances soils fertility, but it is cheaper and can be accessible locally at any given point.

Of course it took some muscle to help the communities understand the impact of depending on fertilizer as soils are destroyed and the product is becoming expensive on the world market so much that it would be difficult for communities to afford, hence, they should start using manure now than later. Two years down the line farmers appreciate the importance of manure and many, even those not in farm club, are making manure.

Author: C. Madikiza-Madumuse
Project Communications Officer

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Climbing Ladders to Literacy

Alice Chikavumbwa and her husband Benzes Mendulo Chikavumbwa from Njema village are a couple taking part in the Women Empowerment Project. Being both illiterate they joined the Adult Literacy class. However he left school for casual labour in town hence was unable to consistently attend the lessons. The wife continued with the lessons and is now able to write the alphabet letters. She says that the husband is behind her success because he encourages her to attend lessons. Mr. Benzes is encouraging other men to allow their wives to attend classes because he says he has come to understand that educating a woman is key to development at both household and community levels. She is now able to help her grand child who is in Standard (Grade) One with alphabet home work.
On the same note, Simon Mukota, a 68 year old CBO member from Namijingo village says: “Am a proud man! I no longer sign using my thumb. I am able to write my name. I have discovered the beauty of holding a pen and write on my own.” He joined the Adult literacy class which is being facilitated by ADRA Women Empowerment Project with funding from Sweden. He explains that during his childhood he did not have opportunity to attend school. His parents passed away in Mozambique when he was very young. He then moved to Malawi and was raised up by his relatives who did not encourage him to attend school. As a little boy he started working in the tea estates with no opportunity to education. He became a man without knowing even how to write his name. “Life becomes more exciting in reading and writing. The fact that I can read the bible is the most precious gift in my adulthood. Thank you ADRA for empowering us” says Mr. Mukota. This has brought a new life in this family comprising of a wife, children and three orphans. He got motivation from his wife who had some basic education during her childhood hence she is able to read and write. Though the class in his community comprises mainly of women, (15 women 1 man) Mukota is willingly working hand in hand with them in all development work and encouraging his family and other community members to consider educating themselves and children for a brighter future.

It has been noted that Adult literacy is the key to women empowerment leading to community empowerment. The women empowerment initiatives have created a conducive environment for men to appreciate and be able to discuss gender and human rights issues in forums like the one in the picture above.

Author: Andyiesa Mahango
Project Manager
Women Empowerment Project
ADRA Sweden and Swedish Government funded project

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

ADRA Radio Program Wins Prestigious Media Award in Malawi

Silver Spring, Maryland--ADRA Malawi recently received the "Radio Play of the Year" award during the 2008 Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) Entertainers of the Year Awards, held last December in the city of Blantyre, for a radio program that promotes HIV/AIDS prevention, personal responsibility and healthy family relations among Malawians.

The ADRA radio program, titled Tikuferanji, or "Why are we dying?" in the national Chichewa language, appears on Television Malawi and also airs on state-run MBC Radio, promoting HIV/AIDS education as an important tool to prevent the spread of the disease through responsible and safer sexual behavior.

"Receiving this award is a great recognition of ADRA Malawi’s work in development and communication," said Emanuel da Costa, country director for ADRA Malawi. "The Malawi Broadcasting Corporation Awards are the most prestigious media awards in Malawi."
Michael Usi, programs director for ADRA Malawi, was also honored with the "Actor of the Year" award.

Through Tikuferanji, ADRA is addressing important HIV/AIDS-related issues, including the importance of blood testing, condom use, marital and family relations, faithfulness, the impact of traditional sexual practices, child labor, personal responsibility, empowerment, and human rights. The program, at times recorded in local villages, reflects the personal experiences of people who have been affected by issues similar to the ones discussed in the plays, which provide a sense of reality to the drama, said Usi.

In addition to this most recent award, Tikuferanji was also voted the best advocacy program in Malawi on radio and television. It received the Best Achiever Award in 2007, and is one of the most popular television shows on Television Malawi. According to various evaluations and media reports, the program is making a positive change on sexual practices in Malawi.

ADRA Malawi also works with other civil organizations, such as the National Initiative for Civic Education, the Civil Liberties Committee, the Malawi Human Rights Commission, and the Human Rights Consultative Council, educating vulnerable groups through focus group discussions, community dialogue sessions, and the dissemination of important educational materials. The topics raised at these meetings create the foundation for Tikuferanji’s plays.

ADRA Malawi is combating the spread of the pandemic through other educational programs and video productions, such as Lets Talk, a show that discusses the issues in ways that viewers and listeners can relate to. ADRA also partners with other organizations to address HIV/AIDS related issues, organizing events, dramas, songs, and traditional dances. ADRA is working to provide affected communities access to higher quality foods, better health care, and livelihood training initiatives that improve their standard of living.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) reports that an estimated 900,000 people, or 12 percent of the population, live with HIV in this landlocked southeastern African nation, which ranks 164 out of 177 countries listed in the 2007/2008 Human Development Index. AIDS has already left more than half a million orphans in Malawi, one of the highest numbers by country in the world. HIV/AIDS is the leading cause of death among Malawi’s adults, and has affected all sectors of society, destroying livelihoods and slowing economic growth.

ADRA Malawi is also actively implementing a three-year project called Training of Trainers (TOT), an international initiative that prepares selected members of a community as HIV/AIDS counselors. By the end of the three-year project, ADRA expects to provide counseling for 24,000 people in Malawi alone.

Since 1982, ADRA Malawi has been working in the areas of disaster relief, water and sanitation, HIV and AIDS, family planning, agriculture, primary health, basic education, and empowerment of vulnerable groups, such as women and children.

ADRA is a non-governmental organization present in 125 countries providing sustainable community development and disaster relief without regard to political or religious association, age, gender, race or ethnicity.

Additional information about ADRA can be found at

Author: Nadia McGill
Media Contact: John Torres
Senior Public Relations Manager
ADRA International
12501 Old Columbia Pike
Silver Spring, MD 20904
Phone: 301.680.6357

Monday, January 19, 2009

ICASA Trip – Religious Leaders and HIV/AIDS

ADRA Malawi assisted by one of its donors DANIDA in Denmark was privileged to attend 2008’s ICASA conference which was held in Dakar, Senegal, from 3rd to 7th December, 2008. Inger Olesen, from ADRA Denmark, Michaels Usi from ADRA Malawi and Emma Jakobo from ADRA Malawi as well were some of the delegates to this significant conference.
The significance of ICASA (International Conference on AIDS and STI in Africa) comes about due to its capability of enabling all the organizations working in the area of HIV/AIDS to come to one place and share best practices, challenges and research results for future programming of HIV/AIDS projects/programmes. This conference was organized by the Society on AIDS in Africa (SAA), Republic of Senegal and Ministry of Health and Prevention of Senegal with other eleven organizations as co-organisers. A lot other international organizations sponsored the conference. This was the 15th ICASA and for Senegal it was the second time hosting such an essential conference.

The theme of the conference was “Africa’s response: Face the facts” and it covered these three major areas:

  1. Policy and Economics: analysis of the impact of the response to HIV in Africa and reflection on strategies for sustainable funding of the response and leadership
  2. Programs: strategies in prevention and treatment
  3. Basic sciencies: biology, immunology, vaccine research and resistance to ARVs

As the theme stipulates, the forum is organized for Africans to assist to find solution to the AIDS pandemic. It is about everybody men, women, youths scientists and even leaders to come together and find solutions to a common problem which is AIDS. Africans have to face the facts, accept and face the realities of HIV/AIDS truthfully and act determinedly for the future.

During the five days a lot was presented and ADRA Malawi attended several sessions.
One session attended which was of interest among the best practices sessions, was on a South African HIV/AIDS project with the clergy. The challenge is on the prevention of HIV (ABC model) which tends to be compromised when it comes to C which is consistent and correct condom use. There was a contentious discussion basing on people’s experience as to how the clergy’s attitude towards condoms is. ADRA indicated that the experience is that condom issues among the most educated clergy are understood better than among the semi literate or illiterate ones. They tend to condemn the use completely and look at it as a means of promoting promiscuity. At the end of it, it was learnt that strengthening HIV/AIDS programmes with this group is momentous. If they are dealt with very well and grasp the concept then the issues of prevention, stigma and discrimination, care and support of the vulnerable groups will be handled easier. Faith based organizations at grass root level are common and if empowered can play a very vital role in the response.

ADRA Malawi works with the clergy and reports from interventions carried out in various communities indicate that they are active teaching about HIV/AIDS messages in different gatherings like in community development meetings, youth gatherings and even at funeral ceremonies. However with condom use, most of the clergy at grassroot level recognize the use of a condom for family planning purposes for married couples and sex workers only. Any one outside these groups is considered a sinner. Such being the case this discussion was of essence to have a better understanding on what our friends are doing in similar projects and how different we can collaborate with them for better out put.

Author: Emma Jakobo