PROJECT UPDATE: MALAWI
Update from WeSeeHope CEO Mark Glen, following a monitoring and evaluation visit to Malawi in October 2015.
In January 2015, central and southern Malawi experienced the worst floods for over 100 years, and the implications of this flood were clear to see on a visit in October. Because of the flooding, the harvest almost entirely failed and over six million people face an incredibly challenging six to eight months before the next harvest. We are initiating and supporting a number of emergency measures to provide part of the answer in the worst affected communities.
One emergency initiative we have introduced is a large piggery project. The local people have built the corrals and local community volunteers have been trained to look after the pigs. We have supplied the pigs and formally engaged a local vet. There are up to 10 piglets in a litter, and each pig can have as many as three litters per year, meaning these piglets can be sold to purchase food for the most vulnerable children in these communities.
Vegetable gardens have been commissioned and fertiliser and seeds have been provided, and these harvests will come through before the main maize harvest next June. Together with our partners, we are in discussion with the World Food Programme and World Vision to extend the Emergency Food Programme into these communities in the coming months.
Despite the failed harvest and the inevitable challenges this presents to our projects and the children we support, the local project volunteers, parents and carers are working hard to find ways around these incredibly difficult circumstances and much progress is being made. Far from seeing our projects’ activities weakened by the impact of floods and extreme food insecurity, there is an increased focus and understanding that these are, and will continue to be, fundamental support pillars. The implementation of new programmes and activities with both of our local partners is also on track and making promising progress.
VIP (VILLAGE INVESTORS PROGRAMME) IN MALAWI
Another hugely encouraging part of the visit was to see the growing demand for and impact of our Village Investors Programme (VIP). The main objective of this programme is to build the economic status and momentum of the carers and the children that they care for. We saw, especially in the light of the failed harvest, just how critical this programme has become as a safety net. Some groups have been affected because their businesses were agriculture related, but they have shown remarkable adaptability in rethinking new business activities unrelated to food generation.
I visited a VIP group called Yanko (translated as ‘the answer’) in one of the worst affected communities. The group had only been formed 12 weeks before, and comprised of 21 carers, who were looking after 96 children (52 of whom were orphans). Despite, or maybe because of, the evident challenges, the group was incredibly dedicated and focused. Every member committed to start a business from the outset, which they had succeeded in doing and all were now saving and taking loans. They had already saved 150,894 MWK ($275) as a group and most were making at least 10,000-15,000 MWK ($18-$27) net profit per month.
In communities where almost all live below the poverty line of $1.25 a day, VIP groups make a life-changing difference and provide an income to buy food in vital circumstances like these.
A year on from the devastating floods, we’re seeing hope in communities just like this one across Malawi.
During this trip I also met Daniel, a graduate from one of our vocational training programmes. Click here to read his inspiring story.