From the Field: Empower Malawi launches new project in Lilongwe District
Bright Msuku here!
We at Empower Malawi partner with rural regions across Malawi for 5 years to support local efforts to achieving self-reliance. Rural regions in Malawi typically comprise of Traditional Authority (T/A) jurisdiction, each with an average of 50 – 100 villages that make up the area. Wherever we implement our projects, we start with scoping and then, upon selection, a baseline survey to develop a detailed snapshot of the current situation and develop a sense of the key needs of an area. In late 2017, Empower Malawi adopted a new project in Lilongwe west in 2 EPAs under T/A Kabudula, Demera EPA, and T/A Ntema, Ngwangwa EPA. AS per our new project model, we will be focusing our two prongs of cooperative development and permaculture in schools. The area demarcations for the T/A’s are very large in size especially in Lilongwe as some of the Group Village Headpersons are comprised of more than 15 – 20 village heads. Geographically, the 2 areas are distanced to each other approximately 120 kilometers from one EPA to another.
Front Right – The Traditional Authority gave Empower Malawi her blessing to work with villages under jurisdiction.
We conducted the baseline survey for the aforementioned areas in Lilongwe District between the 6th – 9th February 2018 and involved components focused on both households and on students. It was a comprehensive exercise where the team carried out the exercise in both locations, continuously across four days. Only 5 households were randomly picked and interviewed from each sampled village. Among other insights from the field (a report is being developed as I write this), we discovered that most households had weak knowledge with respect to what cooperatives where (despite there being a few registered entities in their area) and sustainable agriculture practices (e.g. intercropping, composting, land and water management), two areas that we will be deeply focusing on across the next 5 years.
Having short-listed three cooperatives that Empower Malawi will support through this partnership, we sought to develop a more detailed understanding through interviews with their members. Our work here will involve providing members with ongoing training and development, as well as making capital investments to ensure that these cooperatives are vibrant and sustainable in the long-run. Demera Cooperative has 123 members, Tithetse Umphawi(Let us alleviate poverty) has 52 members and Milindi has 49 members.
We have identified two primary schools that we will partner with to establish permaculture projects, the first one is Kabudula primary school with over 2000 pupils with not more than 30 teachers and Kakoma primary school with over 900 pupils and just 13 teachers. We believe our work here can assist this rural school in providing both students and staff with a more positive learning environment and serve as an inspiration to the wider community. While ultimately decided on by parents, students and staff, we anticipate projects that involve developing a food garden, rainwater harvesting for water access and composting toilets to improve hygiene and sanitation.
The school grounds at Kabudula Primary, there’s much scope for permaculture to turn this bare earth to a productive garden
Excited pupils at Kabudula Primary school! We’re so keen on teaching them practical sustainability skills (permaculture)
We at Empower Malawi are excited! This baseline survey gave us rich insights into T/A Kabudula. In the coming weeks, we will be undergoing a similar baseline process in our second new 5-year project in Mchinji district. This will mean that in total, across both districts, we will be supporting at least 5 local cooperatives and 4 schools.
Thanks for your continued support!