Northern Ireland Funded Initiative Battles Hunger and Malnutrition in Malawi
Project funded by War On Want in Northern Ireland addresses hunger and supports local farmers to become self-sufficient.
Zomba, Malawi — Malnutrition and persistent hunger have long plagued communities in the Zomba district of Malawi, jeopardising the healthy growth of children and overall livelihoods, writes Mustafa Makumba.
However, a beacon of hope has emerged in the form of the Masaula Livelihood Project, operating under the banner of Mphanje Community Action On Development in the region's Traditional Authority Mlumbe.
The project, funded by the Northern Ireland-based organization War On Want, aims to tackle the dire issue of hunger while empowering local farmers to become self-reliant and food-sufficient.
Francis Chimombo, the organization's Executive Director, stressed their commitment to combating hunger in the community, saying, "Our aim is to empower individuals to become self-reliant, capable of producing enough agricultural output, thereby eradicating hunger in our communities."
Since its inception in 2018, the initiative has yielded impressive results. More than 1,000 people have consistently harvested over 1 tonne (1,000 kg) of maize each year, eradicating deadly hunger in the community.
This remarkable achievement has significantly improved the livelihoods of local farmers, who previously struggled to produce a mere 200 kg of maize per growing season.
The success of the project can be attributed to a multifaceted approach. Farmers are engaged in both irrigation and rain-fed farming, and they are provided with diesel pumps to irrigate their crops during the dry season.
Additionally, extension workers offered managerial training, enabling farmers to optimise their practises.
Beyond crop cultivation, the project distributed livestock to farmers, promoting good animal husbandry practices and augmenting nutrition in the community.
Charles Malisero, a farmer from Kalunduwiche village, has seen his life transformed by the initiative.
He now has a thriving kraal filled with goats, providing both food and income for his family. "The goats provide us with both food in the form of meat and income after slaughtering and selling the meat," he proudly stated.
To further enhance economic empowerment, farmers under the Masaula Livelihood Project are organized into Village Savings and Loans (VSL) circles, facilitating access to loans from various financial institutions.
Despite financial constraints, the project has brought hope to a region that once faced despair.
Local residents in Traditional Authority Mlumbe and its surrounding areas are expressing gratitude for the initiative, as it has rescued over 1,000 households from the grip of hunger and malnutrition.
Jayne Antonio, a beneficiary from Chibwana Village, lauded the project, saying, "Thanks to this initiative, our agricultural output has drastically improved, and hunger issues are now stories of the past."
While challenges persist, the Masaula Livelihood Project stands as a testament to the transformative power of community-driven initiatives, offering a brighter future for those in need.