In Malawi the rural communities are vulnerable due to a variety of issues, such as food insecurity, pressures on the environment due to farming and the use of wood for fuel, a lack of education and high illiteracy rates particularly among girls, and high rates of HIV infection.
Community Integrated Intervention Programme was started to reduce poverty in these rural communities and help families to become more self-sufficient. The programme has implemented a variety of activities such as the provision of seedlings to set up tree nurseries, providing training in how to reduce environmental damage, community awareness campaigns on the importance if girls’ education, early pregnancies and early marriage, the establishment of girls after school clubs to provide them with additional support, and encourage them to complete their education, and provide training to community-based Voluntary HIV Counsellors.
Achievements so far
• Improved literacy among the 1,006 girls who have enrolled in ten primary schools across Chintheche, Kayoyo, Samama and Chapananga.
• 184 of the girls that enrolled in school have now completed their primary education, and have applied for places at secondary schools.
• 1,000 households have been trained in modern farming technologies and how to make briquettes to replace wood fuel, and have received drought resistant seeds such as maize.
• 25 Farmer’s Clubs have been established that offer access to village savers schemes, and participants gain profit from selling the group harvest, as well as retaining a portion to feed their families.
Women-headed households are among some of the most vulnerable in rural communities, as they are less likely to have completed their education, lack access to credit, and typically earn a low income. Due to these factors they don’t have the resources to escape poverty.
Nancy, a 43-year-old from Chipayika village in Msomba Parish in Northern Malawi was been successfully supported by the programme.
Sadly, Nancy’s her husband passed away in 2012, and she was left trying to support her two children. Nancy and her children would often go hungry throughout the year because she couldn’t afford to buy maize and fertiliser. Her children would sometimes not go to school so that they could help her with do some casual labour to earn money to buy food and other essentials.
Despite her own challenges, Nancy used to help out in her local community. A priest from the church visited her one day to ask her to volunteer, and upon seeing her poor living conditions he asked her to join the church programme’s Chipayika Farmer’s Group. She received training in small business enterprise, modern farming methods, livestock management and how to use the village savers scheme. Through accessing a loan through the village saving scheme, she was able to start a small business rearing goats. She has now developed a successful business, and has enough food for her family. In the future she plans to diversify her business so that she has funds for the educational needs of her children.
As well as running her own business, she is also involved in joint activities with the other women in the farmer’s group including growing beans for commercial purposes, and rearing pigs so that they can be passed on to other members of the community.
To achieve her success, Nancy has received unfailing support from the Diocesan Field Officer, and from the farmer’s group, that encourages women to work together and learn from each other. Nancy is thankful to the Anglican Church in Malawi for being the catalyst for the positive changes in her life.