Unmega Projects in Malawi

What always strikes me most when I visit developing countries is how effective seemingly small simple solutions are at helping ‘make poverty history’. I got struck again today when we visited several health and food programs that CPAR is implementing just outside of Lilongwe.

The first community we visited, Kunthulu village, has been part of a program dealing with under 5 year old child survival and cholera. The former is an ongoing challenge in rural areas and the latter was in response to a cholera out break in Malawi in the Spring.

CPAR worked with the local health officials to develop a team of 20 volunteer outreach workers who fanned out to 800 households in the area. Going “hut to hut”, volunteers educated villagers on the “17 Steps” designed to prevent early childhood illness and cholera. The steps cover everything from handwashing to latrines to mosquito nest to breastfeeding.

Zachias goes over the 17 steps with a family

Zachias goes over the 17 steps with a family

We met several of the volunteers including the leader Zachias Baziyo and also stopped in to some of the households.

Volunteers Gerrard and Zachias demo a handwash station

Volunteers Gerrard and Zachias demo a handwash station

Folks talked knowledgeably about the 17 steps and handwash stations and enclosed water containers (for cholera) were in use. Small, simple solutions.

CPAR's Dennis and Vester prevent cholera with a simple solution

CPAR's Dennis and Vester prevent cholera with a simple solution

Arriving in Kambalani Village, we saw the 3 S’s at work again.

Lucas Golombe had built a fish pond with local supplies and labour and stocked it with tilapia fishlings provided by CPAR. His daily catch is now a source of protein and income. There are 20 other ponds in the area and the farmer/fisherman share nets and supplies to keep costs down.

Lucas and Faedesi prepare to go fishing

Lucas and Faedesi prepare to go fishing

Down the road, there was a bustle of activity outside of a house that was dotted with buckets and clay. Trifonia Jamu a local farmer was leading a production run of clay energy saving ovens. The ladies worked quickly and skilfully, kneading the clay by hand and then, using the run of the mill buckets as forms, producing perfect ovens ready for the kiln. They’ll be sold at the local market for about 450 kwatcha (uh…about $3).

Trifonia (right) organizes energy saving ovens production

Trifonia (right) organizes energy saving ovens production

Nothing high tech here but the ovens will save trees and provide extra income for farmers like Trifonia. The oven shape etc itself is locally designed to account for locals need and materials and much different from the ones I had seen in Ethiopia and Uganda.

I’m struck again.

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