Our first steps in Malawi
Landlocked between Tanzania to the north, Zambia to the west and Mozambique to the east and south, Malawi has no access to the ocean.
As its subsoil does not contain any wealth, and as its tourism faces neighbouring rivals (Tanzania, Zambia, South Africa) with incomparable fame, the country depends almost entirely on the agricultural sector, threatened alternately by floods AND drought: food security is not assured.
As a result, Malawi is one of the five poorest countries in the world, with the lowest per capita income in Southern Africa: GDP/head of $295, compared to the world average of $10,152 (in 2017, according to the IMF, France’s GDP was $2,574 billion, Malawi’s was $6.26 billion: 400 times less, even though the population is only one-fourth its size).
These statistics prompted us to visit this country of 17 million inhabitants to identify:
– What type of project would be appropriate
– For which category of population
– With which local partner.
In August 2017, we criss-crossed the country from its border with Tanzania to its border with Mozambique and met a dozen local associations. We exchanged 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 population, ignored of all, is the elderly. We saw many old people, often widows, who have only four walls of earth with nothing inside: not a chair or a bed, not a change of clothes, not a single dish.
They are barefoot and ragged, often sick, sometimes crippled, prey to cruel traditions and the suspicion of witchcraft!
Moreover, given the recent ravages of AIDS, which has decimated a generation (its prevalence was as high as 30%, but has now fallen below 10%), 62% of the orphans are in the care of 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.
These two men are concerned with the fate of the elderly. On the right is Andrew Kavala, the PARTNERS contact in Malawi.
All of them are carried out in close cooperation with our local partner, the NGO MANEPO
CONSTRUCTION OF A RURAL SCHOOL
To serve a dozen hamlets whose children had to walk 5 km each day to reach a school in Samala (Balaka district), Partenaires undertook the construction of a school with 5 classrooms and 2 teachers’ lodgings in late 2020. The work began with a borehole – 46 m deep – and the installation of a pump: it is used for the work and will remain at the disposal of the villagers, saving the heavily laden women long daily journeys.
In addition to this “field check”, we were able to identify the site where the school will be built, visit others in operation, compare estimates and choose the companies. Now it’s all going to start!
Thanks to J. Reine-Adélaïde, our school project in Balaka will see the light of day
On Friday 16 April, our association PARTNERS had the great pleasure of receiving a cheque for …25,000 euros! – from the professional footballer Jeff Reine-Adélaïde (captain of the French U23 team and player for OGC Nice) for the construction of a school in Balaka, Malawi.
Thanks to this generous initiative, the financing of the project is now complete. While today they have to travel more than 10km to the nearest school and back, more than 500 children will now have their own school, close to home, and will benefit from a quality education as of the next school year in September 2021.
We would like to warmly thank Jeff for his gesture. We would also like to thank the Concept Sport Agency, which has also contributed to the project with its donation to PARTENAIRES.
We can’t wait for the work to be completed and for the school to open its doors to the sound of children’s laughter.
“I was immediately touched by this project because it is unthinkable for me that children walk 10 km every day to school. I am convinced that this school will give many of them a better future, which is why I wanted to contribute. It is a great emotion and an honour for me. PARTNERS has proven itself for many years all over the world, improving the lives of tens of thousands of people. I am proud to be involved with this wonderful association and its kind-hearted volunteers.
“I will regularly support humanitarian projects for children who are not fortunate enough to have the life that everyone should have. “
Première pompe à eau
Three other programmes have already been carried out in close cooperation with MANEPO, which is very active in improving the living conditions of the elderly.
1 – A GOAT CHAIN OF SOLIDARITY: DONATION OF GOATS TO POOR ELDERLY FARMERS LIVING WITH GRANDCHILDREN
In December 2017, we signed a cooperation agreement with MANEPO. Together we were going to implement the following project, based on a model already tried and tested in Malawi: handing over goats to 200 elderly villagers with dependent orphaned grandchildren.
Within a few years, they can sell a goat to cover unforeseen expenses (illness, repairs to the thatched cottage), and otherwise improve their diet – and escape begging by selling goats – on condition that the firstborn is given to a third party who is equally destitute: with this snowball effect, we help a total of 300 very poor households.
To ensure that the project is properly implemented and monitored, a committee has been set up to empower the elderly and measure the impact of our interventions.
A delighted peasant woman received a goat and shelter
Each beneficiary of a goat participates in training sessions on goat breeding (feeding, reproduction, diseases).
Afterwards, each has given a newborn kid to another poor senior citizen who attends the same training sessions, with sub-committees looking after the health of the animals, with the assistance of vets.
This chain of solidarity has been a great success and 300 goat shelters have been built with the occasional help of their younger neighbours. Gestation lasts 150 days and the kids are suckled for 6 to 8 weeks. The more healthy goats are pregnant, the more kids can be distributed and the small herds, source of income, brighten up the lives of our beneficiaries!
The project costs €39,800 and was financed as follows:
Results end 2020
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 2020
Number of goats at the beginning = 198
Number of goats at the end of 2020 = 317
In total, 31 goats died (foot and mouth disease) and 5 were stolen.
During the whole project, only about ten beneficiaries had to sell a goat.
2- FOOD SECURITY: CREATION OF LANDLESS GARDENS FOR 200 FAMILIESRITY PROJECT
The success of the ‘goat project’ and the reliability of our Malawian partner MANEPOhaving been proven, we signed a new framework agreement on 10.7.2018, which concerned the creation of Landless Gardens for 200 households of deprived elderly people.
The system is ecological and simple: a container filled with soil and humus, enriched with earthworms; a bamboo pipe with holes is introduced, into which organic waste and a liter of water will be poured every day, for composting. After planting, each beneficiary will be able to cover most of his/her food needs in vegetables, and even sell the surplus.
Project cost : 8 000 €
Financed by Partenaires
3 – MIXED PROJECT: LANDLESS GARDENS AND GOAT CHAIN
200 families were helped to create a Landless Garden and 150 other elderly people with dependent grandchildren benefited from the donation or transmission of a goat.
In 20 villages in the Balaka region, 200 elderly people were selected on the basis of the following criteria: landless, malnourished or handicapped farmers with orphaned grandchildren.
In September, the 200 beneficiaries (or their representatives for those who could not travel) attended a demonstration and training session on the concept, how to build the bins, how to grow and how to obtain compost. Construction materials and seeds (tomatoes, eggplants, cabbage, rape and mustard) were given to them. Once the basic knowledge was acquired, lead groups were formed.
In November, MANEPO visited the beneficiaries to monitor the progress of the project – it was clear that the senior citizens and their grandchildren were actively involved in the construction and proper use of the bins.
Donation of solar lights from Total
To complete its first action in Malawi, the donation of a goat and its shelter to 300 destitute elderly farmers, PARTENAIRES obtained from TOTAL the donation of as many solar lamps.
These elderly people live in total destitution, in huts without furniture or toilets, and their villages have no electricity. Going out in the night without light is too dangerous, as hyenas roam around…
Good news from Malawi October 2020
Accompanied by our local partner, Andrew from MANEPO, we visited some of the hamlets in Namitete and Balaka where our goat solidarity chain is operating. We met beneficiaries, including a 73 year old blind man who gratefully told us that he now has 3 goats and will be able to sell one in case of a health problem, or offer an animal to the community on the occasion of a funeral. An 86 year old lady with 3 grandchildren was very happy because her goat was soon to have a kid…or two! (The first-born she had given as agreed to another poor household). The system works well and will be sustainable thanks to MANEPO‘s follow-up, but above all thanks to the motivation of the beneficiaries who are proud of their little capital. They are no longer considered as beggars who live off their village, but are now respected. At the beginning, we had not imagined this collateral, encouraging effect!
Christian and Monique, President and Vice-president of Partners.