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Goodnews Initiative Empowers Rural Women in Chikwawa Through Drip Irrigation
Chikwawa, Malawi - An ambitious program aimed at transforming the economic livelihood of women in the rural communities of Chikwawa is bearing fruit, as women around the communities of Kamchwere, Mafunga, and Phandadzinja in Chikwawa are now growing and selling vegetables through drip irrigation, writes Moses Thole.
This transformation has been made possible courtesy of an organisation known as the Good News Initiative-GI.
Established in 2020, the Goodnews Initiative was created with the aim of transforming the lives of Chikwawa communities, especially women, through a drip irrigation system.
Over 15 cooperatives were formed with a membership of almost 200 women who save money and obtain loans.
Since its inception, women are now able to fund their own needs and take care of their households after selling vegetables.
Tiyamike Khisimisi, an executive member from Tadala cooperative under Sub Traditional Authority Masache in Chikwawa district, shared her success story, stating, "Through Goodnews Initiative, I am progressing in life. I don't have to wait for my husband to give me money for basic needs. I am sourcing on my own."
Additionally, Tadala mentioned the significant achievements through village savings loans (VSL) formed in the cooperatives, stating, "My life has changed for the better, and even some members of the communities are obtaining loans from the village bank. We are investing in other businesses from the profits realized."
Christina Pheto, a mother of four and an executive member of the Tiyesenawo club in Chikwawa, has managed to construct a low-cost house for her family from the proceeds realized from the initiative.
Pheto explained that she divorced her husband three years ago and had no one to rely on for financial support. She decided to join the cooperative under Goodnews Initiative, saying, "It was a turning point for me."
The program is proving to be helpful for many restaurants and individual households, which are being supplied with vegetables on a daily basis.
Pilirani Kossa runs a restaurant at Misewu Folo trading center in Chikwawa district. She speaks highly of the initiative, saying, "I place my orders with women operating under Goodnews Initiative. They have vegetables with delicious taste. They supply vegetables to me, and I pay at the end of the month."
The Managing Director for Goodnews Initiative, Mphatso Grain, says the initiative started as a pilot project in 2020, but due to the women's commitment and the positive impact on their lives, they decided to make it sustainable.
Grain explained that the horticulture initiative uses drip irrigation because it is relatively cheaper, stating, "This type of irrigation just needs buckets and a water supply. Women sell different types of vegetables, such as rape, Chinese cabbage, which are enjoyed by people in the communities."
The Goodnews Initiative is being run without external funding, which Grain said is a major setback.
He added, "The progress we are registering is gradual because we use manual labour. If some donors or partners would come in to support us with modern equipment for ploughing and watering, we can make tremendous progress."
The group hopes to open many cooperatives across the district to reach as many women as possible.
Grain also revealed their future plans, saying, "We are interested in women because many of them are not financially stable. In the future, we will move on to the youth.