Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Salima DC, chiefs impressed with Tsogolo Labwino Project

Salima District Commissioner Charles Kalemba  was impressed with ADRA Malawi Tsogolo Labwino project activities during  a tour of projects in the district. The visit inspired chiefs and project beneficiaries in Traditional Kambwiri in the district.
The DC visited water facilities and village banking groups among other project activities supported by ADRA Australia. In his speech, Mr kalemba called on other organizations to emulate ADRA Malawi for its commitment to help the
One of the facilities visited.
Speaking earlier, Traditional Authority Kambwiri commended ADRA Malawi for transforming lives in his area. He however bemoaned the increased number of non -governmental organizations that existed only on paper. He said that out of 21 registered organizations, only 10 were helping people in his area including ADRA Malawi.
Commenting on the matter, the DC said his office would soon embark on the screening exercise to assess the impact of organizations in the district.
Speaking during the function, Tsogolo Labwino Project Manager Francis Zande thanked the DC for his visit. He also  thanked the community members for supporting project activities and called on chiefs to continue advocating for development activities in their villages.
Recently, ADRA Malawi handed over 4 boreholes to the community which would provide safe and portable water to over 1, 500 people. In April this year, 65 adult learners graduated from adult classes and currently, the project has over 250 adult learners attending classes.  Tsogolo Labwino Project is being supported by Australia to bring about individual and society change in Salima District.     

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Village banking casts glimmer of hope in Machinga

By Elias Banda
Traditional music echoed as big speakers produced loud sound effects and women were clad in traditional chitenje regalia as the excitement was over pouring. And it seemed everybody failed to resist the temptation to dance.  This is how the event marking the ‘share out’ as it is called by the community could be described at Nkata Village in Machinga, where 41 village banking members mostly women, were sharing their bank shares. The members were from two groups and as their constitutions dictate, the banking group should not exceed 25 members.

GVH Nkunda presenting shares to one  of the members

The event takes place twice every year when   members unveil the total amount accumulated through shares and each member receives the dividend according to individual contribution. Each year, when the share out event comes into effect, there is always a new figure unveiled much higher than the previous one. Last year, the group shared out K259, 000 (about $681).
And this year 2013,  Nkata Village Bank accumulated K320,000 (about $842) and was publicly shared  at the  ceremony witnessed by chiefs and hundreds of village members. Before the sharing ceremony, Group Village Head Nkunda said that the event was a landmark activity which was set to reduce poverty and change the community in his area and appealed for more groups to be formed. He told the gathering that village banking had improved women esteem as it empowered them economically. He said that the dependency on marriage as means of survival has been reduced because women were becoming self reliant. He also commended ADRA Malawi for facilitating the establishment of village banking systems in his area.
women carrying gifts ready to exchange
Gedion Kachidowo, Government extension worker in the area echoed the chiefs’ remarks and said that through village banking, food security in the area has improved because instead of selling the food crops, people utilize the shares to buy domestic needs while maintaining the harvests for consumption. He said that the local banking system has improved the culture of saving.
Ndamilire Manesi, who got K26, 000 (about $68) and the largest share, was overwhelmed with joy and said she would use the money to meet her family needs. She said part of the money would be used for buying iron sheets for the house that she is building. She said that her life has changed since she joined the group in August 2012 because she was now economically self reliant and was able to sent her 3 children to school. She said she would save more in the next phase so that she would finish building the house.
Ndamilire also hinted that in wider village context, the village savings and loaning system has reduced prostitution and cheating among married women because they could now easily meet their needs.

According to Dyson Katete, Bank facilitator, their group has big plans. The immediate plan was to buy a maize mill that would help them reduce poverty as long lasting solution. He hinted that their expectation was to raise more than K500, 000 (about $1, 315)  by the end of this year. 

It was really difficult to resist temptation to dance
Apart from shares, village bank members raised K13, 000 (about $34) as an emergency fund in case one of the members fell sick or had a funeral. Apart from cash, members also exchanged gifts such plastic pails, cups and containers to empower each other materially.
ADRA Malawi through the Action for Social Program has built the capacity of bank members and in Machinga District, the program is supporting 9 functioning village banking groups.
The Action for Social Change Program is being supported by Denmark to bring about individual and society change in Machinga, Mulanje, Mzimba/Mzuzu and Lilongwe.

Monday, May 20, 2013

ADRA Malawi heightens KM activities

By Elias Banda

ADRA Malawi management has amplified its quest for setting up the knowledge management systems within the organization structures. Recently ADRA Malawi hosted the regional Action for Social Change (ASC) Program regional workshop at the Lake Shore District of Mangochi involving Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, Zimbabwe, South Sudan and Malawi.
The 5-day workshop, facilitated by Denmark was a follow up of the initial knowledge management workshop held in Lilongwe in November, 2012.  One of the objectives of the workshop was for participating countries to share best practices and learn from each other.
KM session in progress at Nkopola Lodge
During the workshop, countries made presentations on their progress on KM activities and ADRA Rwanda seemed way ahead with already established electronic systems of knowledge sharing. And Zimbabwe, which has just joined the grouping, is yet to set the KM systems.
ADRA Malawi staff enjoyed the management buy-in for knowledge management by the presence of ADRA Malawi Country Director Claudio Sandoval and his Deputy Micheal Usi. Speaking during the official opening of the workshop, Claudio urged participants to utilize the opportunity to explore more ways of enhancing knowledge sharing for the organizations.
Participants enjoying boat ride on L.Malawi
Meanwhile, ADRA Malawi has already hatched KM plans which include planed project managers meetings and annual staff meetings as knowledge sharing platforms and also banking on the opportunity that ADRA Malawi has increased its internet accessibility and provided gadgets such cameras and computers to staff.
Plans are underway to set up a working KM task force which would ensure that knowledge is created and shared across the organization.
After the workshop,  participants got a rare treat during boat riding adventure to an island on Lake Malawi before enjoying a special dinner later in the evening.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

65 adult learners graduate in Salima

ADRA Malawi through the Tsogolo Labwino Project has facilitated capacity building of 65 adult learners who are now able to read and write. The graduates received certificates at a colorful ceremony held at Traditional Authority Kambwiri in Salima District.
According to Shadreck Bandawo, Tsogolo Labwino Community Development Coordinator, the number of graduates was a big success considering that many students left the formal education 30 years ago, but were still eager to advance their skills  . He however bemoaned the low number of male students who were only 2 out of 65.
Speaking during the function, Traditional Authority kambwiri urged people in his area to enroll in adult school classes. He advised graduates to use the skills acquired meaningfully especially for the development of the area.
Graduates displaying their certificates
The graduating class started learning in July 2012 with the initial enrollment of 136 students and only 8 were men. The oldest graduate was Selina Eliya 70, who shared her joy when she received her certificate.
For women the reading and writing skills would help them raise their self esteem and give them the opportunity to participate or elected in decision making positions in community based organization structures that have high male domination.
Tsogolo Labwino Project is being supported by Australia to improve the quality of life for people of Salima.