Our first steps in Malawi

Situated between Tanzania in the north, Zambia in the west, Mozambique in the east and south, Malawi has no access to the sea.

With little or no mineral wealth, and its tourism competing with neighboring rivals (Tanzania, Zambia, South Africa) who are far better known, the country depends almost entirely on the agricultural sector, which is threatened alternately by floods AND by drought: food security cannot be guaranteed.

As a result, Malawi is one of the five poorest countries in the world, and has the lowest per capita income in Southern Africa: GDP per head is $ 295, compared with an average of $ 10,152 worldwide (in 2017 according to the IMF, the GDP of France was $ 2,574 billion, compared with that of Malawi which was: $ 6.26 billion: 400 times less, while the population is only 4 times smaller).

These statistics pushed us to go to this country of 17 million inhabitants to identify

– what kind of project would be sensible

– for which category of the population

– with which local partner.

 

In August 2017, we traveled the country from its border with Tanzania to that with Mozambique and met a dozen local associations. We compared our impressions with the international authorities in Lilongwe, the administrative capital, and with the few French companies in Blantyre, the economic capital.

One thing is certain: the most disadvantaged segment of the population, ignored by all, is the elderly. We have seen many old men, often widows, who have only four earth walls without anything in them: neither a chair, nor a bed, nor a spare garment, nor any crockery.

They are barefoot and in rags, often sick, sometimes infirm, subject to cruel traditions and the suspicion of witchcraft!

Moreover, given the recent ravages of AIDS, which has decimated a generation (reaching a 30% infection rate at its height, finally falling below 10%), 62% of orphans are dependent on their grandparents.

It was in Blantyre that we found our local partner: the MANEPO consortium brings together NGOs whose projects are specifically dedicated to the elderly. Its major aim is to awaken the interest of civil society and public authorities for seniors and to bring about a change of attitude so that they are no longer abandoned or discriminated against.

Our projects:

Both programs are carried out in close cooperation with a Malawian NGO, MANEPO, which specializes in improving the living conditions of the elderly.

Gift of a goat to a poor elderly person with small dependent children

In December 2017, we signed a cooperation agreement with MANEPO. And together, we would do the following project, based on a model already tested in Malawi: we will give goats to 200 elderly villagers with dependent grandchildren.

In a few years they will be able to sell a goat to face an unexpected expense (illness, repair of the cottage), and otherwise improve their diet. The only condition is that the first kid to be born will have to be given to an equally destitute family: with this snowball effect, we hope to help a total of 300 very poor households by mid-2019.

 

 

For the best implementation and follow-up of the project, a committee of beneficiaries, community leaders, and members of our partner association MANEPO, was set up to empower the elderly and measure the impact of our interventions.

Each recipient of a goat participates in training sessions in goat management: feeding, reproduction, disease control etc.

Subsequently, each recipient will give the first newborn kid to another elderly person who will attend the same training sessions, and subcommittees will look after the animals’ health with the help of veterinarians.

This chain of solidarity is a great success and 300 goat shelters have already been built with some younger neighbours helping the elderly beneficiaries.

Video: Give a goat>

  • The 202 goats, each with a shelter were distributed…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The € 42,000 project was funded by the Cassiopée, Ivory and EDF foundations, the French Micro Project Agency, a local contribution and private donations.

 

  • First results for the year 2018:

Initially, 202 goats – including 12 males – were distributed, and 24 died of disease. To stop the epidemic, all the animals were vaccinated.

Six months later the first results show the success of the project:

– 94 goats gave birth to 42 females and 48 males, in addition to 5 stillbirths

– 66 are pregnant

– 18 are not yet bearing offspring.

 

The gestation period lasts 150 days and the kids are breast fed by their mothers for 6 to 8 weeks. The pass-on of the first kids has started successfully.

The healthier the goats, the more likely that they will become pregnant and so more kids can be distributed and the first small herds, a source of income, will brighten the lives of our poor beneficiaries.

Food Security Project

  • Creation of “Easy Gardens” for 200 families who have no land, in close co-operation with the Malawian NGO MANEPO.

Following the success of the ‘Goats Project’ and the proven reliability of our Malawian partner MANEPO, we signed a new framework agreement on 10.7.2018, which concerned the creation of 200 ‘Easy Gardens’ for poor elderly people.

This ecological system is very simple: in a tub filled with soil and humus and enriched by earthworms, food residues and a little water are added each day via two bamboo pipes with holes in them. This helps to provide a small family with vegetables, despite using a very small space.

An ‘Easy Garden’ is a large tub (about 1m²) in which beneficiaries can grow vegetables that will provide them with better nutrition at a much lower cost.

Project cost : 8 000 €

Financed by Partenaires

An ‘Easy Garden’ is a large tub (about 1m²) in which beneficiaries can grow vegetables that will provide them with better nutrition at a much lower cost.

  • Start of the food security project in malawi

The system is ecological and simple: a tub filled with earth, compost and worms, and a large pipe, pierced with holes, in placed in the middle of the tub.  Every day vegetable and organic leftovers and a liter of water are put in the pipe to create more compost.  After planting, each beneficiary will thus be able to cover more of their vegetable food needs and occasionally even sell the surplus.

MANEPO selected 200 elderly people from 20 villages in the Blantyre region.  The selection criteria were: people who were landless, malnourished or disabled, with orphaned grandchildren.

In September, the 200 beneficiaries (or their representatives for those who could not travel) attended a training and demonstration session on the overall concept, the construction of the tubs, the cultivation method and the composting process. Construction material (mats, cement, wire and pipes) and seeds (tomatoes, eggplants, cabbage, rapeseed and mustard) were provided to them.  The young people of the village were very involved and they were able to help the seniors.

The young people of the village were very involved and they were able to help the seniors.

In 2018, we installed 663 of these ‘Easy Gardens’ in eleven villages in Myanmar. The excellent results convinced us to extend this project and implement it in Malawi.  MANEPO selected 200 elderly people from 20 villages in the Blantyre region.  The selection criteria were: people who were landless, malnourished or disabled, with orphaned grandchildren.

 

In November, MANEPO visited the beneficiaries to follow the progress of the project – which showed that the seniors and their grandchildren actively participated in the construction and good use of the ‘Easy Gardens’.

In January 2019, MANEPO sent us pictures of the first harvests and told us that some beneficiaries had explained the concept and the practical details to their neighbors: more ‘Easy Gardens’ are on their way!

 

Donation of solar lights from Total

To complete its first action in Malawi, the donation of a goat and its shelter to 300 poor old peasants, PARTNERS obtained from TOTAL the donation of as many solar lamps.

In fact, these old people live in total destitution, in huts without furniture or toilets, and their villages don’t have electricity. To go out in the night without light is too dangerous, because hyenas rode …

 

Film: Donation of solar lamps>