Achieving Its Targets for Self-Reliance: Champiti Epicenter
Throughout Africa, The Hunger Project’s Epicenter Strategy mobilizes the population of a cluster of villages within a 10km radius to create an “epicenter,” or a dynamic center where communities are mobilized for action to meet their basic needs. Through this fully integrated community-led development strategy, community members establish and manage their own programs to address areas such as gender equality, food security, nutrition, health, education, microfinance, water and sanitation.
Champiti Epicenter serves 33 villages with a total population of 8,723 women, men and children in the Ntcheu district in the Central Region of Malawi. The central region is home to more than 40 percent of the population and is the location of the capital city, Lilongwe. Eighty-five percent of Malawi’s population lives in rural areas, and approximately half the population is living below the poverty line.
While Malawi generally receives good rainfall, the country experienced a severe drought in 2015, which has led to a decrease in agricultural productivity, devastating dry spells in most parts of the Southern Region and has resulted in increased hunger. Champiti Epicenter, although, has fared better than other areas; 15% of households in Champiti’s rural clusters are hungry.
The Hunger Project began its partnership in Champiti Epicenter in 2006, and as of September 2016, Champiti Epicenter achieved the targets it set for self-reliance. This means that community members have demonstrated the confidence, capacity and skills to act as agents of their own development, as evidenced by the presence of:
- Mobilized rural communities that continuously set and achieve their own development goals;
- Empowered women and girls in rural communities;
- Improved access to safe drinking water and sanitation facilities in rural communities;
- Improved literacy and education in rural communities;
- Reduced prevalence of hunger and malnutrition in rural communities, especially for women and children;
- Improved access to and use of health resources in rural communities;
- Reduced incidence of poverty in rural communities; and
- Improved land productivity and climate resilience of smallholder farmers.
Targets set through The Hunger Project’s robust Participatory Monitoring & Evaluation methodology empower community members to be drivers of their own change, identifying concrete objectives that are transparently tracked. These targets are tracked through quarterly data collection, evaluation studies that include household surveys, and annual operational assessments (“snapshots”), which together serve to provide an understanding of the community’s progress towards self-reliance.
As a self-reliant epicenter, the community members of Champiti Epicenter have affirmed multiple local partnerships, created funding streams from revenue-generating activities and established gender-balanced leadership structures to support sustainable growth.
A Closer Look at Champiti
Champiti Epicenter is legally recognized as a community based organization, has democratic operations led by an elected epicenter committee and a land deed. There is a preschool within the epicenter radius as well as a government-run operational health clinic. Women make up 54% executive positions on committees.
Champiti has taken big steps to improve access to safe drinking water and sanitation facilities. In the first half of 2016, the epicenter’s animators conducted a number of village-based workshops and went door-to-door to educate communities on water sanitation and hygiene practices; 100% of households now have clean drinking water. In addition, after the door-to-door hygiene campaign, the epicenter registered commendable progress as more households reported to have constructed toilets, installed hand-washing facilities just outside their toilets and dug rubbish pits.
Champiti Epicenter has had a robust improvement in healthcare. As of the third quarter of 2016, 100% of births were attended by a licensed professional, and 99% of women accessed antenatal services. Since the beginning of 2016, a total of 1490 under-five children that were vaccinated, representing 266% achievement over the planned target, as a result of the “Child Health Days” campaigns which were conducted to underscore the importance of vaccinations.
In 2016, HIV animators–or volunteers– underwent training on the 90:90:90 campaign, which aims to ensure that 90% of the population know their HIV status and 90% of those whom are HIV positive are enrolled on ART (antiretrovirals) and 90% of those on ART are maintained. For the campaign, animators conducted village based workshops to sensitize the community of the same and reached out to a total of 556 partners of which 90% were women. HIV animators, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, conducted community based HIV Testing and Counseling (HTC) session. The provision of HTC services within the epicenter villages increase access as partners do not walk long distance to access the service.
The extraordinary accomplishments of the Champiti Epicenter community have been achieved in partnership with investment from the Eureka Benevolent Foundation in Australia.
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