Archive for January, 2016

January 28, 2016

Malawi: Communities Seek to End Open Defecation

George Mhango
January 28, 2016

Twelve years ago today, Mitress Januwale was in great pain due to the death of her grandmother Myness Gilimoti to what was a suspected work of witchcraft, according to family members.

Gilimoti died when she was more of a bread winner, hence Januwale’s anger. Januwale—a mother of a five-year-old boy Timothy Banda—lives in Mtanda, Group Village Head (GVH) Madzumbi, Traditional Authority (T/A) Mazengera in Lilongwe in the Central Region.

She vomited, felt cold, pugged for two days and later died. This happened before we decided to take her to Nkhoma Mission Hospital of the CCAP Synod for treatment,” Januwale recalls.

Mitress Januwale

Mitress Januwale

Januwale, who was 18 years-old by then, likewise her siblings and parents blamed everyone in the area for the death of their relative.

“She died suddenly and all fingers were pointing at our neighbours. We did not have peace of mind because of the circumstances leading to her death. What I remember is that she had frequent visits to the bush to assist herself as we more often did,” narrates Januwale.

What is clear here is that Januwale and her relatives did not think about a suspected waterborne disease and Malaria to have led to the demise of Gilimoti. Other onlookers had similar expressions.

About one billion people or 15 percent of the global population including those in Malawi, practice open defecation, without knowing the consequences.

Open defecation solution
Based on such explanations, little did communities in Nkhoma, Chigodi and Chilenje know that what they were doing is open defecation which Malawi government wants dealt with to avoid waterborne diseases.

United Nations (UN) and other international organisations such as World Vision have established that extreme poverty and lack of sanitation are statistically linked; and eliminating open defecation is a vital part of development efforts since it is correlated with a high child mortality, under nutrition, poverty and disparities between the rich and poor.

This is why World Vision and the Malawi’s Ministry of Health have been training communities since 2004 to ensure that good water, sanitary and hygienic measures are followed to deal with the waterborne diseases, including the number killer Malaria.

World Vision is also empowering them with basic skills and needs of owning locally made facilities that will champion water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) projects within its areas of operations.

With such initiatives, Januwale can now afford to admit that in the previous years, their house had no toilet, enough a sign that they were prone to waterborne related deaths and Malaria.

Washing hands with soap before eating or after visiting bushes or using protected water was not a priority, but we are now a changed community,” says Januwale, adding that their surroundings usually had uncut grasses— home for the breeding of mosquitoes.

She now explains that they have dug toilets, rubbish pit, clean surroundings and put in place sanitary tools such as soap and water within the vicinity of the toilet for use.

“We wash hands with soap, drink protected water, clean fruits before eating, among others to avoid a replica of what happened to our grandmother and other relations. If we had known we could not have lost her,” she states.

Mother of two, Esnart Kamutu (53) from Malindi in Village Head (VH) Kaphiri in Traditional Authority (T/A) Chitekwere in Malindi also shares the same story. She says, her family was also a staunch believer of the bush and not washing hands with soap.

Esnart Kamutu

Esnart Kamutu

“We felt pains, suffered from waterborne diseases without ceasing. My children were usual suspects in school in terms of absenteeism because of such diseases,” says Kamutu, adding that: We used unhygienic utensils. This affected our family in terms of farming and other engagements.”

Kamutu states that 1978 was the worst year as she suffered from abdominal pains, her children complained of continuous fever, a development that affected their education. Kamutu says, when things got out of hand, they went to a nearby hospital only to be diagnosed with malaria and cholera.

Since World Vision and Government came in with WASH projects, life has changed for the better as you can see that we have toilets and clean surroundings,” enthuses Kamutu, amid ululation from her colleagues.

For the Area Sponsorship Analyst (ASA) Nkhoma, Thokozani Chibwana, World Vision seeks to protect communities from waterborne related deaths by ensuring that water, sanitation and hygiene measures are adhered to at all times.

“At stake is the life of children. Children are the future leaders and we can afford to subject them to poor hygiene and that is why we have different projects. We as World Vision believe in team work with our partners like government in dealing with the vice,” justifies Chibwana.

Clean Village competitions sustain hygiene
In a bid to ensure results, WASH project in Nkhoma-Chilenje Area Programs in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Water sectors have embarked on Clean Village competitions that do not only help to achieve open defecation, but motivates villages to meaning sanitation and hygiene in homes.

Clean village competition involves verification of the villages that have entered into the competition by the village health and water point committees. This is done to establish an element of ownership, leadership and power in the committees that WASH is working with.

Secondly, the data is analyzed by the Health Surveillance assistants and the District Coordinating Team where the team plans to verify the results that have been brought forward on the ground.

After verifying, the two teams meet again to select villages that have won and categories. Certification and presentation of gifts are done in honor of the villages that have done well in the competition.

Benchmarks for the competition are the seven basic elements that sanitation and hygiene checks. These include latrine, drop-hole cover, hand washing facility, dish luck, kitchen, bathroom and rubbish pits.

Nkhoma-Chilenje AP is measured on 89 percent when it comes to sanitation and hygiene.

In this case, Nkhoma Area Program has a population of 20 000, but specific in the five group village heads (GVHs) there are about 15 000 people. Out of the figure, about 13 730 practice improved sanitation and hygiene which is a positive reaction to the project.

Close to 122 villages in Nkhoma out of 140 are open defecation free, according to the environment authorities and World Vision due to clean village competitions.

These activities come at a time when the issue of eliminating open defecation remains the main aim of improving access to sanitation globally as a proposed indicator for the Sustainable Development Goals by the United Nations,” says Wash coordinator for the APs Eunice Nafere.

As it stands now also, Malawi is among the eight African countries which are creatively achieving the goals of community led total sanitation programmes (CLTS). This includes one idea in Malawi where handwashing is monitored based on the health of tree seedlings planted beneath water outlets.

January 19, 2016

Malawi: Moringa Trees Save Lives

George Mhango
January 19, 2016

Amid some rain drizzles Francis Martin Chiponda stuns communities and foreign nationals from World Vision Support offices by declaring his HIV positive status.

His declaration was not by force but meant to testify how he is still surviving.

Chiponda—who comes from Champhula Village Head in Nthondo, Ntchisi District —was confirmed positive in 2006 after undergoing HIV voluntary, testing and counseling services (VCT) at a nearby clinic.

Chiponda displays his Moringa products

Chiponda displays his Moringa products

He also testifies that his ailing health ignited debate in his mind to undergo such VCT services to ascertain his status. Life—according to him—was tough as he could not do anything for a better living with his family.

“The situation was worse when I had just lost my wife. Raising children was not an easy thing as I had too many things to do for them,” he said.

Chiponda lived a miserable life as he also had lost his wife until he knew that leaves from Moringa can liberate him health wise and economically.

Moringa being his survival secret
Chiponda, 65, is still energetic and holds various positions in Champhula Village in Traditional Authority (T/A) Nthondo.

People wonder with others shrugging off their shoulders pointing at him, enough a sign that they did not entirely agree that he is HIV positive.

“He has lived positively since 2006. Makes ends meet at family level. Provides schools fees to his children. In fact, he has clinched Moringa markets,” says James Kachilima, a community member about Chiponda.

Global scientists and health experts jointly say Moringa has an impressive range of medicinal uses with high nutritional value and medicinal benefits.

It is against this background that showers of blessings befell him when World Vision with funds from the US support team sent him to a training in Balaka about the production and growth of Moringa, a nutritious herb.

“The herb is meant to help those that have HIV and nutritious challenges live a healthy life. It keeps me strong and that is why I am still alive. I cannot remember, the last time I got sick, thanks to Moringa,” he says.

In his own words Chiponda, takes the herbs twice a day.
Chiponda’s belief in Moringa is backed by World Health Organization, which since 1998 has promoted the tree as an alternative to imported food supplies to treat malnutrition.

His enthuses that he was further sent to Chongoni in Dedza for five days with a US volunteer to get extra skills of producing the product to satisfy the growing demand in towns and cities.

In underdeveloped countries, organizations and clinics distribute Moringa to infants, children, pregnant and lactating women for good health.

Chiponda as chairperson of Moringa Group makes 200 bottles. His group comprises 20 people and more are likely to join following success stories.

For sustainability sake, Chiponda is also an executive member of Cheka Cooperatives to which the group is affiliated since its inception in 2006.

Profitability, marketability of Moringa
Shopping or the so called window shopping in Malawi’s commercial and administrative capitals, Blantyre and Lilongwe gives you chance to appreciate the marketability of Moringa and other herbs.

This speaks volumes of how herbs have become marketable. This paints a picture of financial independence and positive contribution to the society for the likes of Chiponda if handled as business on a larger scale.

“We dry leaves under shade. After that, we pound and sieve them before putting them in bottles. It is also our duty to ensure those bottles are clean and certified by authorities and health experts locally,” he explains.

“I have established markets deals with One Village one Product (Ovop) and other shops in Lilongwe. One bottle costs K750 ($1.1). For positive branding, I buy labels from Ovop at K70 so the bottle looks original.Of course, bottles are expensive, but I will strive to make more products of this nature to increase my profit-base,” he states.

Chiponda says through Moringa, he has managed to educate his 12 children such that they are able to read and write.

“I live a decent life out of this business. Even those that have HIV have are being assisted through this venture such that they can do farming and various household tasks without facing health deficiencies,” he explains.

Population growth as an opportunity for Moringa producers
With increased population growth in Malawi, which the United Nations estimates at 16 million, business operators and farmers such as Chiponda stand to benefit more if they increase production to meet the demand.

Kafweku (C) seems to be telling visitors the signficance of Moringa as Chiponda (L) looks on

Kafweku (C) seems to be telling visitors the signficance of Moringa as Chiponda (L) looks on

World Vision deputy national director Fordson Kafweku recently observed that population growth is an opportunity for producers of various goods and services.

“Production of Moringa is a good initiative since it can secure the future of Malawians, but there is need for partnership with various organisations such as Vision Fund,” said Kafweku.

He adds: “It is an issue of demand and supply. If there are more people, it means producers of various goods and services have to boost their production to match with the increasing demand,” says Kafweku.
Moringa Group members—having realized the potential of the tree—have since begun planting more trees this season to meet the demand on local market.

Prospects are also high that they would be able to export some of their products for maximum gains in their families and group at large.

The growth of such trees is also championed by Nepad, an arm of the African Union Commission (AUC) that the continent capitalizes on population growth to engage in production of more drugs inclusive herbs.

Nepad, WHO and AUC delegates said this during the recent 2nd Biennial Scientific Conference on Medicines Regulation in Africa.

Like World Vision, delegates asked governments to regulate production of medicines, including local herbs to improve health service delivery.

January 19, 2016

Amina J. Mohammed to Serve as New Chair of WSSCC

January 19, 2016
WaterSan perspective Reporter

Amina J. Mohammed, Environment Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, has been announced as the new Chair of the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) effective as of April 5, 2016.

The former Assistant-Secretary General and Special Advisor to the Secretary General on Post-2015 Development Planning, Mohammed will chair the Steering Committee and guide the work of WSSCC’s Geneva-based Secretariat, its operations in 20 countries in Africa and Asia, and its 5,000 members in 150 countries.

Amina J. Mohammed, the new Chair of the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC)

Amina J. Mohammed, the new Chair of the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC)

Hosted by the United Nations Office of Project Services, WSSCC is the part of the United Nations devoted solely to the sanitation and hygiene needs of the most vulnerable people around the world.

Ms. Mohammed replaces the interim-Chair, Andrew Cotton, Emeritus Director of the Water, Engineering and Development Centre (WEDC, Loughborough University), and previous Chair, Prof. Anna Tibaijuka, Member of Parliament, Tanzania, and former Under-Secretary General and Executive Director of UN-Habitat.

“WSSCC embodies the transformative spirit of the Sustainable Development Goals, promoting WASH at the national level as a strategic entry point for attaining multiple targets” says Ms. Mohammed.

“By improving sanitation and hygiene at scale in sub-Saharan Africa, South and Southeast Asia, in particular, the Council is playing an important role in improving education and health, and in empowering women. I am proud to Chair an organization that understands that equality and universality must go hand-in-hand towards achieving a sustainable development agenda.”

As the Secretary-General’s Special Advisor on Post-2015 Development Planning, Ms. Mohammed worked systematically to ensure the successful adoption by Member States of the Sustainable Development Goals in September 2015.

She is an Adjunct Professor at Columbia University and previously held the position of Senior Special Assistant to the President of Nigeria on the Millennium Development Goals, serving three Presidents over a period of six years. In 2005 she was charged with the coordination of the debt relief funds ($1 billion per annum) towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals in Nigeria.

From 2002-2005, Ms. Mohammed served as coordinator of the Task Force on Gender and Education for the United Nations Millennium Project.

The appointment of Ms. Mohammed will build upon WSSCC’s tradition of having a Chair with experience serving as a senior official of the United Nations and who is a current or former government official. WSSCC is an organization that prides itself on the intersection of state and non-state actors, and the appointment of Ms. Mohammed will ensure that this continues.

WSSCC logo

WSSCC logo

Christopher W. Williams, Executive Director of WSSCC, welcomed Ms. Mohammed, saying, “The issues of sanitation and hygiene are crucial to improving health and development. In the post-2015 era, we need strong global leadership to deepen our efforts, and bold ambition to advance a transformative agenda. I am confident that Ms. Mohammed will be instrumental in helping WSSCC translate global goals into local action, ensuring governments enable communities and that organizations bring about meaningful change at scale.”

In her role as Chair of WSSCC, Ms. Mohammed plans to draw upon her experience and network of contacts in politics, business, academia, and demonstrated knowledge of the United Nations, to raise awareness about practical solutions to improving sanitation and hygiene.

Under her leadership, WSSCC intends to continue its current growth, notably of its Global Sanitation Fund, a catalytic facility that supports the establishment of national sanitation and hygiene improvement programmes in Africa and Asia. Programmes supported by GSF have empowered over 8 million people in 36,000 communities to improve their sanitation, adopt good hygiene practices, and drive local process that contribute directly to education, health and economic development.

January 10, 2016

Changing Lives: World Vision’s Investment in Malawi Gives Hope to Thousands

George Mhango
January 08, 2016

Eighteen-year-old Daniel Mwanza and her two sisters recall having no kind words towards their parents due to poverty levels they were subjected to.

The three children from the family of Francis Mwanza from the area of Group Village Headman (GVH) Funachina in Traditional Authority (T/A) Nthondo in Ntchisi struggled to have good food, water, sanitation and hygiene and decent shelter for years.

“My sisters were once deprived of better education because fees to go to private secondary schools after they had missed out on the list of those selected to pursue education in public secondary schools,” he says.

Daniel and her sisters further admit facing nutritional challenges, which World Vision wants dealt with by championing food security programmes in the current financial year using 20 percent of Malawi’s fresh water through irrigation.

Daniel (L) and mother

Daniel (L) and mother

How Life Changed

In a dramatic turn of events, problems the Mwanza family faced are history such that they have become role models due to various achievements—thanks to the dairy farming and seed multiplication projects.

This follows a decision by Mwanza and his wife to join Cheka Cooperatives in 2009 after undergoing a-World Vision funded training in dairy farming and seed multiplication as part of modern methods of agricultural production.

After the training, World Vision provided cooling equipment and a generator, so that milk is not spoiled once farmers supply the product to the cooperative for market links.

The cooperative—which was registered in 2009—has about 1113 members and others are on course to joining it due to its benefits. Initially, the number of dairy cows has increased from 30 to 215 under Cheka Cooperatives.

A warehouse was also constructed in Nthondo Area Programme (AP) with funding from the United States support office. Farmers keep their seeds and other crops in the warehouse pending market identification during each harvesting season.

“After the training in 2009, I was given one dairy cow, which has given birth to seven more—meaning that I have eight dairy cows now. I am able to supply milk to the cooperative for business and earn more money than before,” says Mwanza, adding that without a certificate one cannot do dairy farming.

His joining and engagements in dairy farming enables him to procure more bags of fertiliser any growing season, which he could not before due to poverty levels.

“I was a regular victim of food handouts, but this kind of farming has put my family on another positive scale,” says Mwanza.

During a tour of Nthondo AP, which included visitors from World Vision Malawi’s support teams such as South Korea, Taiwan, US, Germany, New Zealand and Canada, it was learnt that Mwanza remains one of the outstanding members of the cooperative in terms of human development.

This is because Mwanza is now a hero. He has improved lives of not only his children and family, but community at large through dairy and seed multiplication.

The family of Mwanza has since 2009 bought a one-tone-car, a maize mill, a motorbike. He has created job opportunities by employing five people who work on dairy cows, maize mill and his car.

Knowing that selection to public secondary schools is not easy; Mwanza and his wife Emelda, decided to send their two daughters to a private secondary school using proceeds from dairy and seed multiplication ventures.

“I am now a financially blessed person. I don’t complain much about how and what to feed my family, even school fees and water access. I have what a family needs.

“Above all, I aim higher so my children do not suffer, but rather have the much needed attention for them to be educated and live a healthier life,” says Mwanza.

Profitability of Farming
Just this year, Mwanza has earned close to K1.5 million from maize sales. “I practice modern farming that is why I make such money,” he says.

His wife Emelda alluded that they also get K94 000 per month from the sales of milk, a development which portrays that the family is indeed doing well in as far as village life is concerned. She adds that they used to sleep on empty.

“As a mother, I am now happy because we have anything that we desire to service our family. Money is no longer a problem because some money is gained through matola (local paying transport), so too the maize mill,” states Emelda, a mother of seven.

“We eat a balanced meal and drink a lot of milk daily that is why I look healthier. Previously, I was not like this since food was a problem. Sometimes, we used to fight over food,” echoes Daniel, who is now in Standard Eight.

He says they do work hand in hand with their parents in managing dairy and seed multiplication projects once they are back from school to have the spirit of self-dependence when they grow up.

Views of Communities and Support Offices
Cheka Cooperatives marketing secretary Jonathan Chisinga in an interview said the area lagged behind in water and sanitation, health, education, business, farming among others.

He says such programmes have helped in uplifting the well-being of children, who used to drop out of school due to lack of fees and malnutrition challenges.

“Farmers bring their products to Cheka. In turn, we as executive members source markets for them. Once their products are sold, they get their money based on volumes they brought to the association,” he says.

In his own words, T/A Nthondo admitted that daily livelihoods of Mwanza, other members of Cheka Cooperatives too have improved.

“We want more people to join the cooperative to deal with poverty levels in this area. We also thank World Vision because since the introduction of these programmes, communities can afford an improved life and send children to better schools,” said Nthondo.

World Vision Central Zone operations manager Rachel Kathyanga wants more markets explored besides the fact that communities should grow more crops or engage in dairy farming.

Emelda (R) poses with Kathyanga ( in Middle) and another official

Emelda (R) poses with Kathyanga ( in Middle) and another official

“Imagine! The Mwanza family was given one cow, but today they have eight and make money through milk sales, this is great. Furthermore, it is pleasing to note that they have bought a vehicle, maize mill and motorbike.

“As World Vision and support offices, we are amused with this positive change and that is what we want to see in our operations,” said Kathyanga.

A delegation of various support officials, who recently visited Nthondo, also underscored the need for good transition ahead of local ownership from 2019.

John Michael, the leader of delegation said: “Our visit is meant to see how locals would work after 2018, when we close shop. We also want to find out what we can do now so that the projects are sustained after 2018.”

While the programmes in Nthondo are phasing off in 2018, the likes of Mwanza and Chisinga, think there should be more trainings in how to manage projects.

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