Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Kang’oma ADMARC comes back to life

By James Masauko

The Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (ADMARC) revived its operations at Kan’goma after a series of community advocacy  meetings in traditional Authority Tsabango in Lilongwe bringing back smiles on people’s faces.  The corporation stopped selling maize and seeds at Kang’oma  for several years and since then, the centre was used for selling subsidized fertilizer which was done once in a year.
Happy community at Kang'oma trading centre
Meanwhile, people walked 15 kilometers to join long queues at Area 23 ADMARC Office and on bad day, they could return home without buying maize. At the heat of maize shortage especially in January and February the issue was deeply felt in the community and it triggered discussions to find a lasting solution.
Kan'goma ADMARC Building

Community structures such as the advocacy, Area Development and the clergy committees organized meetings at deferent intervals and resolved to meet the Senior Chief Tsabango and the Member of Parliament for the area Honorable Rabin Lowe for an interface meeting with ADMARC General Manager at Malangalanga in Lilongwe.
The community    later resolved to write a letter to ADMARC bearing all the people’s concerns. A few weeks later the response was positive and Kang’oma ADMARC received 100 bags of maize and 15 bags of rice. However, the maize was rationed at K10kg per person so that at least every one could access to the staple food.
Lilongwe ADMARC promised the community at Tsabango that the supply maize and rice would continue in the subsequent months.
ADRA Malawi through the Action for Social Change Program has strengthened the capacity of community based groups to be able to advocate for better services and improved quality of life.
The Action for Social Change Program is being supported by Denmark to bring about individual and society change in Mulanje, Machinga, Lilongwe and Mzimba.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Elephants or people, who is important?

Elias Banda
“Who is important, elephants or people?”  this question is widely asked by people of  Mangamba village community in Traditional Authority Liwonde in Machinga District. The question has often been asked during interface meetings between the village community  and Machinga District officials in the wake of elephant attacks in the area.
a male elephant at Liwonde National Park

Elephants are reportedly on the loose breaking from the eastern edge of Liwonde National Park porous fence, destroyed crops and leaving people without food. The elephant invasion which locals described as frequently, has forced villagers to shift from their homes and camp around their corn fields to protect the little crops left. Villagers bit drums and blow whistles to scare away the elephants.
people have shifted into temporary shelters to guard their fields

"It appears the government places more value on animals that us" remarked one woman as others clapped hands in support.Many fields have been destroyed and the food deficit months are expected to increase. Villagers also said the National Park would not compensate destroyed crops.
In May 2012,   a 56 year old man died while trying to chase elephants that invaded his field, provoking community anger against the National Park officials.  In March this year, two people died from elephant attacks in separate incidents. 
Chiefs in the area claim that the problem of elephants has gone beyond control because the Wild Life
A destroyed maize field by elephants
Department erected a poor quality wire that could be easily pulled down by the animals. The claim has been denied by National Park officials who hinted that the wire had been destroyed by the poachers.
In 2012, ADRA Malawi facilitated community dialogue between the locals and the Natural Resource Management Committee to find a lasting solution on the matter.  An interface meeting with Park officials later resolved that government would put up a new fence in the affected areas but 12 months have elapsed since the promise was pronounced.
Speaking in an interview, Timothy Maseko, Liwonde Park Manager said the Park has sourced all the equipment for the fencing project and that the company to lead in the fence construction has been identified.  He said this would mean that construction of the fence would start any time.
Mr Maseko said that the community population boom around the park has forced people to expand their
fields close to the edge of Park fence forcing elephants to scamper for crops in the nearby fields.
Liwonde National Park has over 900 elephants and the porous fence wire that has been destroyed stretch up to 25 km making it easy for elephants to enter and exit the Park any time.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Swedish partners impressed with TOT Project

By Stanley Mpasa

The visit by ADRA Sweden Programs Director Per Boling and Hans Sandberg, formerly of Atlas Copco to Malawi highly inspired the community at Group village Tambala, one of the targeted village communities by the ADRA Malawi Trainer of Trainers Project (TOT) in Mulanje District.

 The visitors expressed excitement   by testimonies and successes of community volunteers who are reaching out to the community with HIV/AIDS messages and linking the affected to service providing centers for counseling, testing, anti-retroviral therapy and psychosocial support.
Per interacting with one of the TOT volunteers

The volunteers narrated that some customs in the area still pose a threat to the fight against HIV/AIDS because they are deeply rooted. Common among the harmful cultural practices was sexual cleansing, were by a widow is forced to have sex with a man in the village to chase bad sprits that might haunt the household in the event of death of the husband.  Many people who practice this custom are at risk of contracting HIV.  The volunteers are however sensitizing community members on the dangers of this custom and are breaking the silence. Recently a man who could not be named revealed how he was secretly hired and sexually cleansed 20 widowed women in the village.  Strangely, when he went for HIV test, he came out positive. He stopped the practice after being counseled by TOT volunteers and he is now helping them to advocate for change.
Fallace Kachingwe, TOT supervisor addressing the gathering 

The visitors were also impressed how the volunteers were coping with transport challenges to visit their clients by forming a village bank to help them meet operational needs.  The bank that started in 2012 has raised over K40, 000 about ($95) through chicken rearing and the money would be used to support volunteers to easily reach their clients.

The visitors were accompanied by ADRA Malawi TOT Project Manager Stanley Mpasa and ADRA Malawi Country Director Claudio Sandoval.

ADRA Sweden is supporting 2000 households in Group Village Tambala alone to bring about individual and society change through the fight against HIV/AIDS.