Since 2002, Global Concern has provided agricultural training and inputs to subsistance farmers in Northern Malawi with the aim of developing food security and long term self-sufficiency. Food insecurity in this area is high, resulting in malnutrition and early mortality rates. These issues are further compounded by problems of malaria, malnutrition, diarrhoea and HIV/Aids. Farmer training introduces participants to modern farming techniques covering conservation farming, agricultural inputs and crop storage. Environmental protection education includes energy, wood and water saving techniques, soil preservation, the appropriate use of organic and inorganic fertilisers and the benefits of tree planting. Health and nutritional education provides training in food preparation, cooking, healthy eating, sanitation practices, HIV/Aids prevention and care and general health advice. Participants receive inputs of seed and fertiliser, pumps for wells and access to fresh water, and mosquito nets to protect the vulnerable from malaria. The project engages a participatory approach and emphasises community management through local committees. Its primary intention is to enable the poor to access tools which will lead to self-development and self-sufficiency and ultimately long term food security and independence. Each year over 1,000 impoverished people participate in the project and move onto food security. Learn more...
Violet is a 75 year old widow. She had one child who has now left home. Violet lives alone in a dilapidated house, the roof is falling apart and the inside is dark, damp and dingy. Her kitchen consists of a couple of pots perched on top of some smouldering logs and her bedroom is a damp mattress laid over a pile of loose bricks. In a place where social security and pensions are unheard of, Violet faces the harsh realities of poverty in old age alone. (See next photo for more details).
Global Concern's Malawi Food Security Project provided Violet with soya beans, maize and cassava cuttings, which she has diligently worked and weeded on her own plot of land. Violet attends training faithfully and applies her new found knowledge in the field with the assistance of project agriculturalists. For Violet, she hopes this project will become her vehicle to break out of poverty and enjoy her life even in old age.
Bridget is married with 6 children (3 boys and 3 girls). She found the education on gender provided profound positive changes for her family: ‘After our training session on gender I sat down with my husband and called our children into the house to join us. Together we talked about what we had learned in the gender classes. After our conversation my young son got up of his own accord and started sweeping the house. The children and my husband have been helping clean the house and the boys helped us carry the hoes into the field for the first time.’
Newton, above, is 45 and was born with a physical disability in his left leg. As a result, he has learned to walk by using a large pole for a crutch. He is married with 4 children and 5 grandchildren. None of his children are married, so all 9 of them live together with Newton and his wife. (See next photo for more details).
Global Concern's Malawi Food Security Program provided Newton with fertiliser, maize, cassava, soya and banana crops for planting as well as mosquito nets for his family. But most of all, he received training to be able to cultivate his crops in such as way as to be able to provide for his family for the rest of their lives. Despite his disability, Newton works harder than most and has even developed ways of cultivating his land by balancing on one leg and using his hoe as a crutch.
Chingorya well, above, is located in a village in northern Malawi with a population of 480 people. Many of these people used to walk over 1km every day to collect water and carry it back on their heads. Sometimes they took water from the lake instead because it was closer but were often struck with water born disease as a result. This is the third well to be placed in this community and serves fresh water to 120 people. The villagers themselves dug the well and baked the bricks for the interior, while Global Concern provided the pump, cement and training in its use and maintenance so that fresh water will continue to be available long term.
This group of women use their baking skills to gain an income together and support widows and orphans in their community. Global Concern encourages and facilitates the operation of local clubs and micro finance groups within the villages. It is encouraging to see projects being birthed out of people’s own initiative as a result of the increased interaction within the project and skills, such as baking, acquired through project training. Some villages have also instituted their own village bank account with the guidance of project staff.
Fruit farming has also been successful in villages, which are now growing banana, guava, and oranges supplied by the food security project. These will provide their harvests in 9 months, 12 months, and 3 years respectively and are obviously long term solutions to food security and introduce new forms of nutrients and vitamins into the community diets. Like cassava, the banana cuttings/suckers can also be passed onto other farmers each year and their impact multiplied.
Mary Mbeau, above, suffers from a disability that limits her speech and other mental faculties. Global Concern provided her with maize, cassava and fertiliser and she regularly attends training sessions to improve and protect the yield on her crops. Mary has 8 people in her household to look after, including one orphan, and she is extremely thankful for the support and input she receives from Global Concern.
Global Concern trains locals in nutrition, enabling them to live healthier lives and access new forms of cheap and nourishing foods. Some of the new products participants have learnt to make include soya milk, cow pea fritters, banana sauce, meat balls, soya meat balls, sweet potatoes, and lemon cake. Participants have learnt how to utilise a wide variety of nutritious foods, in particular soy, which they previously had no knowledge of. This has resulted in improved health for families and children and a possible source of income generation for those who would like to sell their wares.