Posts tagged ‘GEORGE MHANGO’

November 10, 2016

Malawi: Red Cross Society Gives Hope to Floods and Drought Victims

George Mhango
November 10, 2016

Learners queue for porridge at Mavuwa in Chikwawa, Malawi.

Learners queue for porridge at Mavuwa in Chikwawa, Malawi.

Floods, disasters and dry spells that hit Malawi’s Lowershire districts such as Chikwawa, Nsanje, Mwanza and others between 2014 and 2016 are still being felt. Challenges are many, but the most outstanding one is lack of food to feed families and their children.

This is why a leading humanitarian organisation called Malawi Red Cross Society (MRCS) has intensified a multimillion kwacha school feeding programme in Mwanza and Chikwawa, districts where floods, dry spells and other disasters are said to be perennial.

The project is being funded by a Consortium of Danish Red Cross, Icelandic Red Cross, Finish Red Cross and Italian Red Cross after realizing the need that most children were not willing to attend lessons due to lack hunger.

MRCS communications manager Felix Washon told a group of international journalists from BBC and DW, who toured the programme this week that the project is meant to improve school enrollment, reduce absenteeism and cases of dropout rates.

“The overall objective of the school feeding project is to mitigate the effect of the recent drought for food insecure children in two districts in Southern Malawi,” he said.

Washon alluded that the immediate objective is to see to it that 12 000 children in seven selected pre-schools and eight primary schools in Mwanza and Chikwawa districts are provided with on-site Corn Soya Blend (CSB) and sugar for nine months.

During the media tour, it was discovered that Malawi Red Cross through the project is providing corn soya blend (SCB), sugar, cooking utensils and hygiene promotion activities in the targeted Schools.

Washon said: “Apart from meeting the nutrition needs of the learners the project will also contribute toward reduced school drop-outs.”

One of the porridge recipients at Mavuwa, Malawi.

One of the porridge recipients at Mavuwa, Malawi.

Malawi Red Cross Society is implementing a similar project is also being carried out in Salima with financial support from the Swiss Red Cross apart from embarking on the food distribution in Mangochi to 52,000 families with support from WFP and Danish Red Cross.

Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee (MVAC) Report for 2016/2017 growing season shows that an estimated number of 6.5 million people, or 39 percent of the country’s projected population of 16.8 million, have not met their annual food requirements during the 2016/17 harvesting period.

According to the MVAC report, this represents an increase of 129% compared with the corresponding figure of 2.8 million people for the 2015/16 consumption period.

For the affected people to survive up to the next harvesting period, the total humanitarian food assistance is valued at the equivalent of 493,000 metric tons of maize, with an estimated cash value of MK148 billion.

Currently, Malawi Red Cross Society has a number of activities supported by different PNs. One of the districts where MRCS is supporting hunger stricken communities is Chikwawa where Netherlands Red Cross and IFRC are funding the Cash transfer Project.

November 10, 2016

Malawi: Lives Changed By a Bore Hole

George Mhango
November 10, 2016

Joy in Ekesi village because of borehole. By George Mhango

Joy in Ekesi village because of borehole. By George Mhango

Malawian Viligita Amos is a mother of three. She has lived a bitter life due to lack of water for home use. Rivers as an alternative are nowhere in sight to make matters worse.

At the centre of the complaint was how to raise her children so they live a healthy life, go to school after taking a bath and above all for cooking.

“Any domestic work that required water was a challenge. My children suffered a lot. They went to school without a bath and on empty stomach. Clothes were not regularly washed too,” says Viligita.

She did not see any drop of water flow from a borehole or tap since her birth 29 years ago. Suffice to say that she spent more looking for water.

Today, Vigilita likewise others in Village Head (VH) Kachere in Traditional Authority (T/A) Mavwere in Mchinji, central region of Malawi can afford a smile. The well-drilled borehole is now a darling of all community members.

Why? Because World Vision Taiwan funded the drilling of holes. Here in Malawi, World Vision through Likasi Area Programme (AP) facilitated the drilling of the holes.

Provision of water has also improved the health-being and sanitation in schools in Likasi AP because learners afford a bath and put on well washed clothes.

“We could not have water. Our children were always late for school. We could not imagine having a borehole,” another mother echoed.

During the visit, it was discovered that close to the borehole is a vegetable garden. Communities use water from the borehole to grow vegetables.

“We don’t complain of relish anymore because I have a garden where I grow vegetables. In the previous years, this was not practiced because water was not available,” stated Amos, amid ululation from fellow women.

Communities in Village Head Ekesi in Traditional Authority Mavwere in Mchinji Malawi’s central region district have hailed World Vision for the borehole.

The development, according to community members has eased the water challenge faced for long. The water problem contributed to low school enrolment, poor hygiene and sanitation in various homes.

World Vision Taiwan provided funds for the drilling of the hole likewise the other 17 drilled holes in Likasi Area Programme (AP) in Mchinji.

Yasinta Daniel, 55, a member of the sunk hole in the area says life with children is unbearable without water.

“We depended on unprotected water sources before this borehole was sunk. Our children were affected when it comes to punctuality in schools,” says Yasinta.

Yasinta Daniel (L)

Yasinta Daniel (L)

According to her, women spent hours queuing for water at a distant place.

“Our children, especially girls would be late for school in most cases as they assisted us fetching water. We used to leave our homes as early as 4am to draw water in another village.

“We wanted our children to have breakfast and a bath before leaving for school,” says Yasinta, a mother of six and one grandchild.

With the borehole in place in the area, women and children praise World Vision. Most of them said they will ensure that they care of it to increase its life span.

“We have suffered a lot in areas of hygiene and sanitation, therefore, we cannot afford to lose this borehole just like that,” said Mable another mother of three.

August 3, 2016

Malawi: World Vision Intensifies Borehole Drilling

George Mhango
August 3, 2016

Mary Msampha can now afford to draw water close to her home

Mary Msampha can now afford to draw water close to her home

Mary Msampha used to walk 10 kilometers to and from her house searching for water in Lipiri, Dowa District, Central Region Malawi.

The area is within the control of Traditional Authority (T/A) Kayembe and shares boundary with T/A Chakhaza, another popular chief in the district.

“Our children suffered a lot. Even cooking food was a challenge without water. Secondly, as you know that when you have infants or young children you have to wash their nappies, this was another setback,” says Msampha.

Most of her time was spent on searching for water. Little time was spent on taking care of her family and practicing farming, according to Msampha.

“We sometimes had no option but to travel to a distant place called Kawande to draw water,” recalls Msampha, adding that like other women, they were subjected to long queues and sleepless night as their efforts to draw water.

People in Lipiri, Dowa are both great commercial and subsistence farmers of beans, cotton, maize, groundnuts, soya sorghum and other crops.

Initially, Dowa is an agricultural district which focuses on cotton and groundnut farming, and the main food crops produced in the district are maize, sweet potatoes and pulses.

Even a visit to the area showed that the area has no enough portable water. Perennial rivers from where people can fetch water for home use and dambo farming are also few prompting such challenges women encounter.

Drilling of a hole captured in progress in Lipiri

Drilling of a hole captured in progress in Lipiri

Msampha adds that government funded community based care centres including those of various organizations such as World Vision in Lipiri were affected.

“It was difficult to run a Community Based Care Centre (CBCC) without water because apart from teaching children every operation depends on water. For you to prepare porridge, wash their clothes, one needs water. It was a problem running CBCCs then,” explains Msampha, who also teaches at Lipiri CBCC.

Go there today, such calamities are history. The area has more holes drilled by World Vision. Children and community members, who also used to suffer from waterborne diseases, can now afford a healthier life.

Water is also available in most CBCCs. “We now have the audacity to fetch water from boreholes World Vision drilled in the area. We no longer complain because we even have gardens where we grow vegetables to supplement the diet,” says another mother identified as Naphiri.

World Vision Central Region coordinator Liddah Mtimuni Manyozo says currently, the organisation has intensified the drilling of 43 holes in Lipiri Area Programme.

“To this day 37 holes have been drilled with two dry holes in Lipiri, which has a population of 22, 382. On average,” said Manyozo.

The initiative is meant to deal with water challenges children and others face in homes, schools and habitable place. In fact, in other areas World Vision is drilling solar power driven boreholes.

March 7, 2016

Malawi: Irrigation Ministry Partners With World Vision to Boost Agriculture

George Mhango
March 06, 2016

To ensure children and various families live a healthier life, World Vision Malawi and government officials have urged communities to champion modern farming technologies that would help avert hunger and climate change.

This comes amid a joint agricultural field day which Chigodi Area Programme (AP) and the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development held in Chitekwere Extension Planning Area (EPA) in Lilongwe few days ago.

World Vision and Government Officials in One of the Soya Fields in Lilongwe district

World Vision and Government Officials in One of the Soya Fields in Lilongwe district

Assistant district agriculture development officer for Lilongwe district, Chautsi, who was the guest of honour, said the event game farmer’s opportunity to share different farming technologies and practices.

The stands and sites prepared focused mainly on conservation agriculture (CA), chinadango fertilizer applied maize field, soya production, alley cropping and ground nuts production, Paprika production, Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR), cassava production, fortified beans production, among others.

Chautsi said he doesn’t feel good when lead farmers queue for maize in Admarc yet the modern farming technologies are geared at averting food shortage.

“Emulate what fellow farmers do so that you increase crop production and attaining food security status in your households,” he said.

Chautsi said government has the responsibility to ensure that each farmer produces good harvest every year so that children have food to eat throughout the year.

“This is a big task and government alone cannot afford, that’s why non-governmental organisations like World Vision are here to complement such efforts,” he said.

One of the livestock farmers in Chigodi

One of the livestock farmers in Chigodi

Freeman Gonambali food and security coordinator—who spoke on behalf of World Vision—said the organisation would like to see each household be food secure to improve nutrition, health and economic status of children and every household member.

He further encouraged farmers to adopt modern farming technologies in order to realize bumper harvest.

“World Vision is committed to complement government effort to ensure food availability, hence the good work relation,” said Gonambali.

He promised a vibrant continued working relationship between World Vision and Government, especially Ministry of Agriculture.

 

February 19, 2016

Malawi: Farmers Exploit Diamphwe River and Dambo Land for Farming as Business

George Mhango
February 19, 2016

He was poverty stricken. Stubborn to take elders’ counsel. Failed to feed his family. Lived hopelessly. Believed in stealing, alcoholism and trouble making, characters that are not in line with the Christian values, Jesus preached.

His children and family could not appreciate family love. They failed to make ends. Often times, thronged their parents-in-law for food, clothes and financial support.

Malekano Chikupila, Village Head Nzuma in T/A Mazengera in Lilongwe was at the centre of this. He was struck by poverty. However, close to him were untapped fertile land and water.

Few kilometres after Kamphata in Lilongwe as you travel on the M1 Road lies Diamphwe River and vast Dambo land—precious resources for farming as business.

But all Chikupila needed were farming skills and counseling so that he can exploit Diamphwe River and the vast Dambo land for farming as business in a move to live a happier life. He recalls that life became unbearable when he got married.

But now, Chikupila lives a decent life out of farming, which he did not believe could transform him likewise his family members.

Chikupila in middle, explains the significance of farming

How? This follows training sessions by Nkhoma Youth Department under the CCAP Synod—with funding from Y-Malawi through World Vision—held for Nkhoma-Chilenje youths.

“Since I joined the club my life has changed for the better. I used to cause havoc in the area, which is not the case today. I did not mind what trouble to cause. But look, I now contribute positively to the family and development of the community,” explains Chikupila.

Chikupila is a staunch farmer and dedicated church member of the CCAP. Like other members, he too takes advantage of rain and Diamphwe River water to grow cabbage, maize, beans and tomato for subsistence and commercial purposes.

He has iron sheets out of the farming business, a thing he recalls would not have done some years before 2013.

“I bought 15 bags of maize last year to beef up with what I harvested using the money I gained from sales of other farm produce. This year, I expect to sell more and continue with my investments plans,” says Chikupila.

He, however, pleads for timely availability of farm input and field officers so that they have advanced skills in agricultural production in view of the global talk of climate change.

Youths under Diamphwe Club say the presence of more field officers in the agriculture sector is vital for more financial gains.

The club, which comprises 40 members—has seen its members grow maize, tomatoes, cabbage, beans and other crops since inception in 2013.

Through the growth of such crops, various members of the club have prospered in their day to lives such that they are a force to reckon with.

With increased population growth in Malawi, which the United Nations estimates at 16 million, business operators and farmers stand to benefit more if they increase production to meet the demand.

Chikupila's tomato garden

Chikupila’s tomato garden

Malawi Government and various local and international organisations think Malawians should regard farming as business if they are to progress in life. These organisations include agricultural and humanitarian ones such as World Vision.

This is why World Vision deputy national director Fordson Kafweku recently echoed by saying that population growth should be regarded as an opportunity for producers to make more profits.

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.

Josephine Jacob, a secondary school student shared another success story following the introduction of youth clubs in Nkhoma. She comes from a family of four (two boys and two girls).

She says she is can now afford paying school fees for herself. According to her, she sells Mandasi after knocking off from school.

When in class, it’s her relations who sell Mandasi on her behalf.

“I am a member of Diamphwe Youth Club and through my business, I buy clothes, school uniform, shoes and notebooks. On daily basis, I make at least K2 000 (U$2.8) per day. I am also into village savings,” she says.

Josephine explains that life was tough before she attained business, leadership, health and other skills.

She salutes Nkhoma Youth Department and World Vision for the training.

“My parents could not fend for my needs. They struggled buying me school uniform, shoes and clothes, which I can now afford,” she says.

Different youth clubs operate under Nkhoma Youth Department.

According to Kennedy Chabwera Programs Officer for Nkhoma Church of Central Africa Presbyterian Student Organization (CCAPSO) clubs were formed to shape the youths into reliable citizens.

“Those who patronize the clubs have changed their behaviour and that’s what we intend to achieve,” says Chabwera.

He adds that they provide youths with books and any other written literature to improve their business, farming and leadership skills.

Nkhoma Youth Department gets support from Y-Malawi through World Vision for its activities.

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 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.

December 4, 2015

African Countries Urged to Reduce Dependency on External Funding for Health

George Mhango

Addis Ababa. Dec. 04, 2015.  A three-day 4th African Medicines Regulators Conference organised by Nepad, African Union and World Health Organisation has today cone to an end in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

The meeting sought to discuss ways of ensuring that there is support for countries to accelerate the pace of establishing functional medicines regulatory agencies at national, regional and continental levels and strengthening the capacities of existing in the region.

Throughout the three days, it was evident that the workshop created a platform to review progress made in the implementation of the five-year action plan (2014-2018).

NEPAD logo

NEPAD logo

The review process was meant to strengthen the capacity for regulation of medical products in the Region and propose solutions for tackling challenges faced by countries.

In his opening address professor Aggrey Ambali, head and advisor of Nepad Science, Technology and Innovation Hub stressed the need for Africa to reduce dependency on external funding for health considering that the continent bears 25% of the global burden of disease.

He, however, said while less than two percept of the world’s medicines are produced in the continent, importing the medicines and commodities that people desperately need is unsustainable.

“Africa must invest in itself and the health of its people. It is the right thing to do, and it will deliver real economic and social returns.

“It would be also important to fast-Track reforms in regulation of medical products and technologies in the continent by scaling AMRH across the continent through regional economic communities and regional organizations,” said professor Ambali.

He further said there is need also to expand the scope of African Medicines Regulatory and Harmonization (AMRH) to cover other regulatory functions and products.

“NMRAs involvement in the elaboration of regional and continental medicines agencies – the African Medicine Agency. NMRAs utilization of regional centers of regulatory excellence. Advocacy for domestication of the AU Model Law on Medical products Regulation which will assist in strengthening NMRA governance in Africa, ensure effective regulation of medical products and technologies,” he said.

While discussions are focused on regulation and establishing regulatory bodies, the issue of advocacy for sustainable NMRA financing models and how NMRAs fund their participation to African Medicines Regulators Conferences remained a critical issue.

Other topical matters that will arise during the meeting include how to establish a robust monitoring and evaluation framework to monitor progress and assess impact of medicines regulation in promoting and protecting public health and its contribution to economic growth.

“We need strong NMRAs in Africa that can attain the status of Stringent Regulatory Authorities (SRA) that we currently see in Europe and US,” said professor Ambali.

But Dr Jane Byaruhanga from the African Union alluded to the fact that Africa’s leadership remains concerned about a continued disproportionate disease burden of communicable and non-communicable diseases and its negative impact on the continent.

She noted sub optimal investments in the health care delivery system continues to hamper Africa’s progress not only in ripping the economic potential of  a healthy human capital but also affected other sectors of the already fragile economies of various countries.

“The proliferation of sub-standard, spurious, falsely labelled, falsified, counterfeit medical products in our market further constitutes a public health emergency that has also severely impacted on the competitiveness of the local pharmaceutical industry,” she said.

Byaruhanga, therefore, said the forum will go a long way in facilitating and ensuring that continental frameworks and institutions established and endorsed by the African Union leadership are implemented at national, regional and continental l levels.

“These frameworks include the pharmaceutical manufacturing plan within which  the African Medicines Regulatory Hamornisation Program was established and the African Medicines Agency, the Africa Centre for Disease Control  and Prevention, the African Union Model Law on Medical Product Regulation which was recently endorsed by the African Union Specialised Technical Committee on Legal and Justice Affairs,” she said

Initially, the framework and institutions are intended to create the enabling legal and regulatory environment for the pharmaceutical sector development, and improve access to quality essential medicines promote and protect public health of our citizens.

Meanwhile, the AU and Nepad have teamed up on how best to harness the global momentum that has been created towards addressing the issue of counterfeit medicines and willingness to support related programme in Africa while acknowledging the effort of regional economic communities.

December 3, 2015

Nepad, AU and WHO Want Stiff Regulation of Medicines

George Mhango

Addis Ababa, Dec. 03, 2015. The 2nd Biennial Scientific Conference on Medicines Regulation in Africa, which ended on Tuesday this week saw various delegates asking African governments to ensure that they regulate production of medicines and its policies to improve health service delivery, which is so crucial in treating dozens of WASH related diseases.

Nepad, African Union Commission and World Health Organisation organised the meeting in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.

AU Logo

AU Logo

The most critical issue delegates wanted agreed upon was the timely availability of high quality drugs from the manufacturer to the public who are said to be under great sufferage in terms of accessing medicines in many African countries.

The other issue was a resolution that in as far as regulation and harmonisation of operations of local pharmaceuticals is concerned there is need to guard against the proliferation of substandard products on the African markets.

Dr Aggrey Ambali who is head and advisor of Nepad Science, technology and innovation hub hinted that African governments need to come up with stiff regulation so that traditional healers too are held accountable for their claims.

“Regulatory bodies in each others in close collaboration with Nepad and World Health Organisation should lead in examining policies if any that govern activities of traditional healers, who claim to have found treatment for some diseases,” he said.

Following the proliferation of medicines on the market made by traditional healers, the World Health Organisation-WHO calls for timely identification so that well trained and passionate traditional healers are allowed to practice the business.

Ossy Casilo coordinator of medicines and the role of traditional healers at the World Health Organisation said there is need for joint efforts between governments Nepad, WHO and AU.

She said joint efforts would help develop national traditional medicines policies which are expected to give direction on how such doctors are to provide effective medicines to the public.

“Each country needs to identify qualified traditional healers who can practice medicine and ensure that they are evaluated for research activities by working with Aids-related institutions, researchers and intellectuals,” she said.

Present during the conference were officials from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. They too were upbeat that while there have been different providers of medicines; the issue of high quality needs to be re-emphasised and remain a must.

The organisation expressed willingness to continue funding initiatives in the local pharmaceutical industry in a bid to ensure that medicines are found in each and every location.

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation insists that it will promote the pharmaceuticals industry, which at the moment is one of the most regulated in the world after the aircraft industry.

According to Dan Dartman director of integrated development global health programme the public deserves high quality medicines as opposed to fake ones, which bring calamities.

Nepad, AUC and World Health Organisation—who organised the conference—have since indicated that the meeting has helped to attain outcomes meant to increase stakeholders’ awareness on the progress made in medical products regulatory systems.

During the conference, which was held under the theme “Regulatory systems strengthening for advancing Research, innovation and Local Pharmaceutical Production in Africa”, speakers were upbeat about making medicines produced in Africa or imported from other continents are available to the public.

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