Friday, February 19, 2010

How a Mill Can Send a Child to School

Life is easier in this community,” says Luka Khuliwa, community chairman. “We are learning that every small change makes life easier.” Malawi is a country where families grow their own food using simple hand tools. Driving through the south of the country, you will not see tractors or even oxen-pulled ploughs working the fields. All work is done by hand, and mostly by women. Maize is the food of choice. Without maize at a meal, most individuals feel that they have not eaten. While ADRA agricultural projects in the country encourage the growing of tomatoes, cassava, pigeon peas, soybeans, and sweet potatoes, most everyone grows maize. Hand milling, or pounding the maize by hand, is an energy intensive and time-consuming daily activity. Done by women and girls, this keeps them from other needed activities. It even keeps girls from attending school. “There was a maize mill near our community; however, it was a long, long walk, and to go there meant you did nothing else that day,” states Irene. “Those who were lucky enough to have a bicycle could ride there with their maize in two hours. My family did not go often.”

The Mphonde community is in the Phalombe district of Malawi. In this remote area along the Mozambique border, villagers struggle hard simply to exist. ADRA is working in partnership with the World Food Programme (WFP), distributing commodities and creating food assets here, including the building of large fishponds and poultry production. It was clear that building a maize mill in this community would further alleviate the extreme poverty. A community maize mill would not only free up individuals’ time, but it would also allow them to spend less funds on getting maize ground. It would create a small community industry with jobs, and it would provide a small stream of income for the community.

The community council identified a parcel of land along the dirt road and voted that this would be the property for the maize mill. With ADRA donating the building materials, the community built the mill building out of brick and concrete. ADRA donated the diesel-run machinery and trained three individuals on the operation and maintenance of the mill itself. The mill operator and his assistant are grateful for the income that working at the mill provides.

The mill is open five days a week, and the community has assigned each family a day and time to come to the mill each week. This scheduling means that no one has to wait in long lines, and everyone has a chance to have their maize ground into flour. “We usually see 25 people a day, and they come in groups of five,” says Bonwell, one of the mill operators. “By scheduling people in groups, I do not have to keep starting and stopping the mill. We save on diesel this way.”

The community pays the mill operators 2,000 kwacha (US$14) a month. After three years in operation, the community has 70,000 kwacha in the bank. “We are using the interest in the account to send the orphans in our community to school,” Luka Khuliwa proudly exclaims. “Without this money, they would not be able to receive an education. Thank you, ADRA, for helping us provide for every child!”

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Monday, February 15, 2010

ADRA/NAPHAM training People Living with HIV/AIDS Support Group

Thandizo Lathu CBO is a community based organization in Maonga group village head, T/A Kalonga in Salima district. This group started in 2004 at a Methodist Free Church in the area through dialogue sessions with the community on the impact of HIV and Aids in families and evolved to become a CBO focusing on positive living with HIV/AIDS. The CBO was established in 2008 and registered with the district social welfare office.

Thandizo Lathu CBO operates in 4 villages and has 5 key components namely of People Living with HIV/AIDS support group (PLWHA), Home based Care group, Youth club, Community Based Child Care and Orphan Care.

In November 2009 the CBO wrote a proposal to National Aids Commission of Malawi through the District Social Welfare Office in Salima to train some of its members on Positive Living.

The next hurdle was to find facilitators for the workshop and the district social welfare office identified and approached NAPHAM (National Association for People Living with HIV and Aids in Malawi) and ADRA (Adventist Development and Relief Agency in Malawi) to provide the training since the CBO was in their impact area and also due to the nature of nutrition activities ADRA was doing in the area.

ADRA and NAPHAM went on to facilitate the training in areas of Concepts of positive living, Anti Retroviral Therapy adherence, stress management, food processing and utilization, home gardening, IGA activity concepts (savings and loans) and group dynamics. This was done week beginning 8th February, 2010.

During this training the facilitators and the CBO noted some issues that affect people living with HIV/AIDS such as distance travelled to the nearest clinic to access ARVs from the village was very long (25km) and this has made many patients to give up treatment early. The other was unavailability of bicycle ambulance for the community to carry patients to hospital. One bicycle ambulance costs around $500.

Other notable issues were lack of reliable IGAs other than piece work in crop fields and lack of access to nutritious foods such as soya meal. The CBO lamented that many of its members fail to attend meetings because they are always out looking for piece work

At the end of the training ADRA through Tsogolo Labwino project pledged to support the group with savings and loans training once they get organized. ADRA has also provided the group with 10 kg of soy seed which they have planted in a communal garden.

Thandizo Lathu CBO has expressed gratitude to ADRA and NAPHAM for the skills imparted to them. ADRA Tsogolo Labwino Project is equally happy with the recognition it is getting from other government institutions on its capacity to provide trainings to the grass root as it changes the world one life at a time.

By Francis Zande (Tsogolo Labwino Project Manager)

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Water in Mulanje - Southern Malawi

The people of Mgumera and Mbwana, an area with over 7,000 people, have for a long time been having problems to access water. This problem has lead to use of unsafe water from streams and ponds and to high rates of water born diseases in the area. After assessing the situation, ADRA Malawi with funding from DANIDA through a project called Resilience and Capacity Building has drilled two deep wells costing $20,000.

Although the two deep wells are still not sufficient for resolving the water problem, it contributed greatly to improve the living conditions in the area, according to the Group Village Head, people especially women and girls were spending most of time fetching water which is far away. He thanked ADRA for providing water which is life.

The community dancing in celebrating the water when the pumps were installed during the water point training that was conducted by ADRA and line ministries

Author: Winston Chilonga,Water Coordinator,ADRA,Malawi