November 2007: Progress in Malawi's Epicenters

Trip Report by Fitigu Tadesse, Vice President for Africa and Amrote Abdella, Senior Program Officer for African Woman Food Farmer Initiative (AWFFI)

Our first day in Malawi, we visited Mpingo Epicenter where we inspected one of our partners' pig productions and household food security achievements. At Chamba partner village, the team saw a successful adult literacy class that has been put in place. At the epicenter itself, we were delighted to see the community's food bank had 414 bags of maize. While at Mpingo, we also had the opportunity to witness African Woman Food Farmer Initiative (AWFFI) partners repayment activities at the epicenter. On the same day, we also saw a Vision, Commitment, and Action Workshop (VCAW) being conducted for the neighboring villages. The Hunger Project-Malawi continues its commitment to strengthen its partnership with neighboring villages around Mpingo, and is providing support to its partners who are working on molding bricks to to upgrade the epicenter.

On Thursday, November 22, the team travelled to Ligowe Epicenter, two hours away from Blantyre. Our first stop at Ligowe was with Mrs. Odiliya Kachoka and Mrs. Violet Whayo who have achieved great things since their first AWFFI loans three years ago. The team then visited the recently finished Kalinde Borehole. The success at Ligowe Epicenter was evident when we visited the food bank, which had 516 bags of maize, as well as a fully functional nursery and library.

On Friday, November 23, the team travelled to Jali Epicenter, also two hours outside of Blantyre city. There, we visited Kabwere partner village and met with the Samalani Loan Group. We met Mr. and Mrs. Pemba -- both participants in The Hunger Project. While Mr. Pemba was actively involved in the Epicenter Committee, Mrs. Pemba started with an AWFFI loan three year ago. Today, the Pemba family have pigs, goats and chicken that they raise in their compound. They have secured enough food for their family and are even able to sell some of their surplus crops in the market. The Pembas were were delighted to point out, that from the meager poverty they were trapped in a few years ago, today the family delights in the TV and DVD player they have at their 3 bedroom house. Mr. and Mrs. Pemba continue their involvement at the Jali Epicenter and serve as role models for others in their village.

From Kabwere village, the team travelled to Mkomera partner village where we inspected the Traditional Birth Attendants at work. Jali Epicenter has reached new measures of success with the food bank which had 601 bags of maize and 458 bags of rice. Jali Epicenter continues to demonstrate good repayment rate in the Strategy Planning in Action (SPIA) program and AWFFI. The loan committees continue to show their dedication to the direct lending program.

On Saturday, November 24, we travelled to Mwaiwagwa Epicenter which is a Phase I Epicenter. There, Dr. Tadesse met with the Epicenter Committee and talked to the community about the importance of community mobilization for the construction of the epicenter. With the Chief and MP for the community in attendance, all the partnering villages reemphasized their commitment to building this epicenter. In the meantime, Amrote engaged with the Loan Committees for both AWFFI and SPIA to discuss the monitoring and evaluation that is in place for the first loans that have been disbursed to partners.

On Monday, November 26, the team travelled to Nsondole Epicenter in the Zomba district, two hours outside of Blantyre. The first stop was at Chilambe partner village to inspect and launch the Piped Water Project. This project is being rehabilitated by The Hunger Project-Malawi in coordination with the government of Malawi, who will ensure that all of our 30 partner villages of Nsondole will have access to safe drinking water by December 31, 2007. While inspecting the Nsondole Epicenter, we noted the great achievement of our partners at the dispensary, library, rural bank and the food bank, which had 740 bags of maize and 400 bags of rice. While Amrote reviewed the progress achieved at the rural bank, Dr. Tadesse travelled to Sopwe partner village to inspect the village HIV/AIDS and Gender Equality Workshop.