Thursday, October 29, 2009

Bicycle Ambulances

As observed by Karren Allen, BBC reporter, (click here to access the report) bicycle ambulances are playing an important role in reducing maternal and newborn deaths in Malawi.

Since beginning of this year ADRA Malawi, assisted by ADRA Denmark and private donors in Denmark, such as FEJERSEN, donated 7 bicycle ambulances and trained 7 Community Home Base Care Providers Committees with skills in basic health care and bicycle maintenance. Before the end of the year an additional 7 new bicycle ambulances will be provided.

In 2010, ADRA Malawi, assisted by ADRA International, will conduct a World Wide campaign to provide at least 90 additional bicycle ambulances to rural communities in Malawi. This campaign will be featured in the upcoming ADRA International Gift Catalog.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

ADRA network commemoration of World Food Day

The ADRA network commemoration of World Food Day, highlighted the work to fight hunger that ADRA Malawi is conducting. Read the article bellow or follow the link to the story in the ADRA International website.
A central focus of ADRA Malawi’s activity has been to improve food security and resilience of households in Malawi. This has involved activity across three main areas of increasing food availability, strengthening local economies and improving nutrition through processing and utilization. Additionally ADRA Malawi is partnering with the World Food Program to carry out relief operations and reducing the vulnerability of communities in the Phalombe District.
ADRA International article.
Author: Nadia McGill

SILVER SPRING, Md. —On October 16, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) joins the world in commemorating World Food Day, recognizing an immediate need for increased access to food in many countries, as the number of the world’s hungry continues to grow, and the amount of food assistance shrinks.

According to the World Food Programme (WFP), the number of people globally suffering from hunger has reached a record high this year, surpassing more than 1 billion people. Meanwhile, the amount of available food aid has dropped to its lowest number in two decades.

“The double whammy of the financial crisis and the still record high food prices around the world is delivering a devastating blow,” said Josette Sheeran, executive director for WFP. “Throw in a storm, a drought, and conflict, and you have a recipe for disaster.”

To meet the ongoing challenges of today’s changing world, ADRA continues to implement much-needed projects that provide emergency and development relief to communities on the brink of starvation.

In Guatemala, where millions are currently struggling to survive the worst drought in 30 years, ADRA just completed a distribution of emergency food baskets for 377 families in some of the country’s worst affected communities.

“The problem is very serious,” said Otoniel Trujillo, country director for ADRA Guatemala. “There are many people that are currently in need of a lot of help.”

In response to the ongoing food crisis that is affecting an estimated 250,000 people in southern Madagascar, ADRA is partnering with WFP and other organizations to provide Food-for-Work and other activities for more than 18,000 households in the affected region. ADRA is also distributing more than 4,000 tons of food throughout 16 communities in the districts of Ambovombe and Tsihombe, in the Androy Region. Other partners include the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), also of the United Nations.

“In recent months, the food security situation in the south has steadily worsened,” said Peter Delhove, country director for ADRA Madagascar. “This project is expected to meet the needs of affected households in that region, helping them to make it to the next harvest.”

In order to fight malnutrition among Malawian children under the age of five, ADRA is working with the local government and other non-governmental organizations to train parents and care givers in nutrition, effective childcare, and healthy feeding habits, through an initiative called the Resilience and Capacity Building for Vulnerable Households and Communities affected by HIV/AIDS, Malawi project. In collaboration with trained health care providers, ADRA is supporting mothers who have malnourished children through training, practical cooking, infant feeding demonstrations, and counseling.

“ADRA believes that solutions for most of the problems can be found within the same communities,” said Thoko Mwapasa, project manager for ADRA Malawi.

Therefore, ADRA facilitates the transfer of knowledge within the community by drawing lessons and beneficial practices from mothers of well-nourished children from low-income families.

By the project’s completion in 2011, an estimated 2,000 children under five years of age from the districts of Mulanje and Neno, in southern Malawi will have benefited.

“The intervention can greatly contribute to better health outcomes for children under five who are often at risk of child mortality, since a lack of good nutrition leaves children vulnerable to frequent illnesses and poor growth,” said Mwapasa.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the vast majority of the world’s hungry live in developing countries, with 65 percent of those suffering from hunger found in India, China, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan and Ethiopia. Nearly two-thirds of the world’s hungry live in Asia.

World Food Day was created to raise awareness about global food scarcity, motivating communities to get involved in the fight against world hunger.

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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.

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Volunteering in Malawi (2/2)

During the month of August ADRA Malawi was proud to host two high-school students from the UK for a week of volunteer experience. They were exposed to many different aspects of development, from working in the head office to a visit to a community based youth group, who use theatre to influence their community and raise awareness of issues such as domestic violence and HIV/AIDS. The following stories reflect their experiences and what impacted them during their week in Malawi.
Kerryn Lodo: Volunteer Supervisor

Author: Lahna Mawee-Patel

Whilst in Chiradzulu, I was given the opportunity to visit a child-run home. We interviewed a young man, Mphatso*, 21, who, along with his two younger brothers, aged 10 and 14, was orphaned 5 years ago sadly to the loss of his mother and abandonment of his father.

I was confused to hear that after the mother died, the father soon re-married and went to live with his wife and therefore leaving his eldest son to look after his younger siblings. I later learned that this was part of some Malawian cultures and that this was sometimes a normal thing to happen due to a matrilineal structure. Unfortunately, due to the situation of poverty present in Malawi the father was, and still has been unable to provide for his current family, let alone the boys. This also applies to members of the maternal family; they are also poverty stricken and cannot afford to care for the boys as well. Additional to this, HIV has also been an issue which has affected the support provided from the maternal family to the boys. With so many people passing away, the traditional support systems which would have assisted the boys and taken care of them in this situation are disintegrating or non-existent.

This is why ADRA provide extra support to groups like an IGA group. This is an income generating activity group (IGA) which is designed especially for cases like this. The group is able to choose a small business which they can start up so that they can earn a small income from it and assist vulnerable households in the community, such as Mpatso. In this particular case that I saw, the group decided to raise goats to share between community members. The IGA group supplied them with two goats as a starter provided that they give the first two kids to the next family in need of IGA group support. After this they can do whatever they need to with goats in order to sustain a living for themselves.

It was touching and encouraging to find that the eldest boy was very keen on making sure that his two younger brothers obtained a good education and go on to lead successful lives and maybe even work with ADRA one day! With the IGA, the family has been able to sell two goats which can provide them with enough money for a 1 year school fee making it all the more possible for the two younger boys to lead any life they wish to.

* Real Name not used.

Volunteering in Malawi (1/2)

During the month of August ADRA Malawi was proud to host two high-school students from the UK for a week of volunteer experience. They were exposed to many different aspects of development, from working in the head office to a visit to a community based youth group, who use theatre to influence their community and raise awareness of issues such as domestic violence and HIV/AIDS. The following stories reflect their experiences and what impacted them during their week in Malawi.
Kerryn Lodo: Volunteer Supervisor

Author: Bianca Mawee-Patel

When hearing that we would be seeing an active Theatre for Development program performed in a village, I was interested in seeing how a piece of theatre could really influence the community in changing their attitudes towards important issues.

The aim of Theatre for Development is to use live performance to communicate information across a range of sectors to bring about change in attitudes and lifestyle.

The youth community group is made up of around 15 boys and girls, although due to illness and lack of transport, only 7 were present at the performance in ­­­­­­­­­­­Chiradzulu. The youth group meets voluntarily once a week for about two hours, and as a group they discuss which issues they feel need to be bought to attention. They then create a short piece of theatre outlining this.

Everybody within the group gets involved and performs with real energy and passion for getting their message across. When asked why they attend the youth group, they all said that as youths, they had a responsibility to educate their community, change their attitudes and change the misconceptions towards issues such as HIV/AIDS, violence, theft and abuse.

Since the topics are quite sensitive – and some members might not want to be directly told about them – the youth group use music, song, dance, comedy, role plays and forums to get their message across. This serves two purposes, to provide the community with useful information and also as a form of entertainment where the whole community gathers together. There is a relaxed atmosphere where the community feels comfortable to get involved with the theatre. During the forum, at the end of the theatre, I was surprised to see how many people were speaking up about what they had learned from the youths. One of the youths stood in front of the community (which was made up of about 130 people of all ages) to outline the major aims of their piece.

The topic covered in the theatre I witnessed was awareness of HIV/AIDS. In the forum, the community was actively discussing the fact that a person has a right to know if their partner is HIV positive. But, what I found was the most interesting was the fact that instead of the youths simply telling the community the right answers, they were asking the community, letting them realise for themselves. This I feel is a good way of letting the community come up with the solutions to their own problems, remembering that there are no right answers, as every community differs ( one community might have come up with a different solution to another). During the role-play, it was good to see the community really responding to the issues covered. This was either through the comedy and the fact that they could relate.

This experience has shown Theatre for Development to be an extremely effective way in creating dialogue and change in the community and the responses were really positive. The youths do so much to try and educate their community and it’s obvious to see that they feel that they have a responsibility as youths to change the ways of the community. In comparison the youth in the UK are not as active as in Malawi, and it’s a real eye opener to compare the priorities of a youth in Malawi who wants to influence change within their community against the priority of youth in the UK who have a much more individual focus.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

“Tikuferanji” takes new turn ('The Daily Times' - article)

Again, one of the main newspapers in Malawi, chooses to feature an article about ADRA Malawi. This specific article presents an external view about the impact that our Communication for Social Change program, Tikuferanji, is having in the Malawian society and presents several unexpected outcomes that show of the importance of the strategy. In special I would like to underline the great honor that was for ADRA Malawi to have the President of the Republic, commenting on one of the episodes, and for the interesting analyses that the journalist, McDonald Chapalata, makes of the public intervention of the President.

Bellow the tanscript made by Aninde Migogo, from ADRA Malawi, of the “The Daily Times” newspaper article.

Title: “Tikuferanji” takes new turn

Source: The Daily Times (October 7, 2009)

By: McDonald Chapalapata – Journalist of “The Daily Times”

It all started with one straight forward question: Tikuferanji? Which literary translated meant why are we dying? The reason of such deaths was HIV/AIDS, according to the project.

The drama series produced by the Adventist Development Relief Agency(ADRA) has been on the radio for nearly 13 years and on television for approximately 8 years spreading the message on HIV/AIDS issues.

As one of the most popular television shows in the country, Tikuferanji received the radio play of the Year Award at the 2008 MBC Entertainers of Year Awards, and it has been voted the best advocacy programme in Malawi on radio and television. It also received the Best Achiever Award in 2007.

But the focus of the drama series has slowly been widening to encompass not only HIV/AIDS issues but also addressing issues on human rights, gender, democracy and other social topics.

Even the head of state has commented on some of the issues being raised by the drama series.

“ I saw a play a few weeks ago where one who had just voted and dipped his two fingers with ink was saying he was going to demand money for voting for President and MP. If that person came to me I could have blasted him” President Bingu Muntharika told a campaign rally before by- elections in Ndirande Central constituency in July this year.

The play he had seen was Tikuferanji on Television Malawi (TVM) where Manganya (played by Michael Usi) was demanding money for voting for a President and a member of Parliament.

This issue attracted a huge debate on the roles of the MPs where buying of coffins during funerals was not one of them.

During the campaign period, another social issue the programme exposed was the problem of power blackouts in the country.

Manganya was President of Nginana party and made electricity his campaign tool telling prospective voters how lack of consistent power supply retards development.

Recently, the consumer Association Of Malawi (CAMA) took electricity Corporation of Malawi (ESCOM) to task over its slogan of “Power all day everyday”

Escom has since changed the slogan to a more realistic one of “Towards Power all day everyday”

In July this year Manganya was invited by the Malawi Defence force for a 20-kilometre march to raise awareness of the HIV/AIDS in the army.

Usi, who is deputy Country Director for ADRA said in an interview this week that they have decided to broaden the focus of the series because they are sensitive to issues affecting the citizenry.

“We are in touch with the people on the ground, the citizenry and we would want to address issues that affect them. We have to move with time,” Usi said.

He said for example, the drama series which is going to be aired tomorrow night on TVM will centre on a football match between Malawi and Ivory Cost who are playing on Saturday at Kamuzu Stadium.

“Football is one of the things that are dear or close to the hearts of the people and we will be addressing that issue but at the same time we will not be forgetting the theme of this programme, Tikuferanji?or why are we dying?” he said.

But how did he feel when the President commented on his play?

“The Presidents comments motivated us. It really pays when you do research and present issues which even the head of state comments on,” Usi said.

He said there was an outcry from both the MPs and the constituents on the roles of MPs which incuded buying of coffins and helping people with food.

“We should look at both sides of this issue. People pester MPs a lot sometimes on simple things like food, camping at an MPs house just to get food and that is why maybe they desert the village and live in town,” Usi said.

He also said other MPs just “leave” their constituents and live in town without any reason.

“We were looking at an opportune time to deliver the message and I am glad that when we did, it was acted upon by the President.” Usi said.

He says before producing the series on different issues, he consults widely including lawyers.

Tikuferanji is a serious programme presented in a lighter manner,” summed up Usi.

He says ADRA conducts community dialogue sessions where they get to know issues affecting people.

Usi also says their communications team search for information from the internet, newspaper, radios and many other forms of media.

He says because of the successes of the communication for development innovations, ADRA Malawi’s projects are a benchmark for other countries like Burundi, Zimbabwe and even Sweden.

“ Denmark sent me to Burundi to set up a radio programme on the healing process of the war on children. The programme is up and running and many are learning and appreciating the importance of conflict resolution,” Usi says.

Apart from the drama series ADRA is involved in other community based programmes aiming at improving the welfare of the people.

In the civil society and empowerment programme, ADRA Malawi holds community participation and management as a priority and endeavors to build capacity of communities in leadership, governance and democratic processes to promote inclusion.

ADRA is also involved in food security and resilience programme where the main emphasis is increasing food availability, strengthening local economies and improving nutrition.

Usi pays tribute to their donors, the Danish government for supporting them “although it severed its ties with the Malawi government”.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Reducing Underweight and Malnutrition of Children in Malawi.

ADRA MALAWI, in its effort to assist the Government of Malawi in reducing child malnutrition among under five children is promoting good child care and feeding practices for under fives in Mulanje and Neno districts.

ADRA is following an approach called Positive Deviance(PD Hearth) in its fight against malnutrition. Health workers are trained in child care and feeding. Children from each village are then weighed and using Z score, malnourished children are identified. Those in -3 are considered severe and referred to Rehabilitation Units but those in -2 Z score are referred to group feeding program within the village.

Mary is a 3 year old girl is one of the beneficiaries of the Positive Deviance - PD Hearth program. Mary’s parents are divorced and she lives with her 23 year old mother. The mother has problems maintaining the health status of the child mainly because she had no knowledge in approriate child feeding and care. This led Mary to be malnourished. Before joining the feeding program, Mary weighed 11.4 Kilograms against normal weight for age of 14.3 kilograms. After 12 days of feeding, Mary weighed 12.3 kilograms gaining 0.9 Kilograms.

Her mother says, her child was sick most of the times because she didn’t know how to prepare her nutritious food. Having been encouraged by the village headman and Health workers, she decided to take the child for the village based group child feeding program. She says she is able to get the resources needed, because they are locally found and she will continue preparing the same even after graduating from the PD Hearth program and until the child gains normal weight against her age.

In this intervention all women with underweight children come together for a 12 day feeding program. Unlike other programs which provide the feed, ADRA does not provide food instead, women contribute towards the feeding exercise. They cook porridge and feed the children for 12 days. Ingredients into the porridge include: maize flour, pigeon peas, or soya , milk, groundnuts, egg, vegetable, sugar and where possible a little drop of oil.

This intervention also goes a long way to reduce child mortality since most of the child killer diseases are a result of nutrition deficiency.

After the program completion the ADRA staff continues to monitor the children with the assistance of the government Health Workers and Village Volunteers, to ensure that the children continue to improve and gain weight and monitor their health after the PD Heart intensive program ends.

Author: Moses Mpezeni – Project M&E Officer