MSIA:Towards food and Income Security
The sheer notion of always waiting on rains for everyday food provision is a recipe for food insecurity. Due to overdependence on rain-fed agriculture, for a long time farmers of
T/A Kalolo in Lilongwe West have been facing challenges in their agricultural activities.
These challenges among them included low productivity due to land degradation; declining of soil fertility; lack of irrigation; lack of diversification in farming systems which has been dominated by maize production; poorly developed markets for agricultural inputs and produce; and weak service provision, particularly rural financial services and agricultural research and extension.
However, the farming community in the area has been seeing its fortunes change since the Foundation for Irrigation and Sustainable Development (FISD), in collaboration with Farmers Forum for Trade and Social Justice (FAFOTRAJ) started implementing the Mtete Sustainable Irrigated Agriculture (MSIA) Project, with the main objective of ensuring that by 2018, farmers in the area are food and income secure through sustainable irrigated agriculture.
The MSIA Project started in August, 2016 with funding from the European Union (EU). The initiative covers areas of seven Group Village Headmen of Mvuto, Mchadza, Chipanga, Mbang’ombe, Mkhozomba, Chalimba and Chilowe in Ming’ongo Extension Planning Area (EPA) under the Lilongwe West District Agriculture Development Office.
The MSIA Project basically complements Malawi Government’s effort to eradicate the challenges that are being faced by the agriculture sector in most parts of the country and is part of the Government’s
Agricultural Sector Wide Approach Support Project (ASWAp) whose funding is channeled through the Multi Donor Trust Fund (MDTF).The EU contribution to the MDTF resulted from the Financing Agreement signed between the European Commission and the Republic of Malawi in 2012 in view of financing ASWAp and the Green Belt Initiative (GBI). The project target is basically an agrarian community with main focus on production of maize, groundnuts and tobacco. The specific objectives of ASWAP-GBI are: To improve the productivity and efficiency of small scale farmers through sustainable irrigation development and to directly influence the prevailing land use practices with the objective of improving the sustainable yield of the water sources required for the long-term viability of the irrigation schemes to be funded within the project. The MSIA Project is being carried out with the main objective of enhancing food and income security by the year 2018 of at least 324 farm families, reaching out to a total of 1,994 people. The target is basically an agrarian community with main focus on production of maize, groundnuts and tobacco. The project envisages achieving the following: improved annual crop production; build the capacity of farmers to sustainably manage the developed gravity-fed irrigation scheme; enhance natural resources and environmental conservation within Namitete river catchment, and build capacity of farmers in commercial agriculture. Apart from promotion of irrigated farming, the project also includes various other interventions such as: promotion of afforestation, promotion of sustainable land management including soil and water conservation, promotion of farmer business schools (FBS), promotion of cultivation of drought tolerant crop varieties and capacity building initiatives.
So far the project has seen the successful construction of a 12 meter high dam with the capacity of storing 513,000 cubic meters volume of water in total. This water shall be able to irrigate a scheme of approximately 80 hectares of farm land for a period of not less than five months enabling farmers to irrigate their crops all year round and harvesting up to three times a year. For the successful implementation of the project and its sustainability beyond EU funding, the local communities were involved from the onset. FISD and FAFOTRAJ carried out community and district level sensitization meetings for awareness creation involving District Executive Committee (DEC), District Advisory Executive Committee Council (DAECC) which are at District level followed by Area Development Committee (ADC) at Traditional Authority and Village Development Committee (VDC) at Group and Village Headmen levels respectively. Through these local structures, communities were mobilized through the development of joint/participatory action plans. The Project also led to the establishment of Mtete Water Users Associations (WUA). The interim WUA Board was elected by the General Assembly in the catchment and subsequent training was provided to the members. The formation of the WUA was very important in the project as the WUA was responsible for supervision of all dam construction works including construction of physical structures in the irrigation scheme. Community sensitizations on natural resources management was done to create awareness of environmental and natural resources management (ENRM) aspects of the project. This was followed by the establishment and training of Community Based Natural Resources Management Committees (CBNRMC) and Village Natural Resources Management Committees (VNRMC). 2017 was one good year that saw the completion of the construction of the structures on the scheme. It is the year landmarked by hard way that even saw the committees lead in the management of trees that were procured by the project and distributed to the target communities. The project so far has procured 60,000 tree seedlings against the target of 5000 tree seedlings in the period under review. In the same year FISD further tilled the 40 hectares of land that was developed in the year and pre-financed the project beneficiaries with production costs with the farmers required to pay back upon selling their produce to Seed Co, which FISD linked them with.
TABLE FOR 2 PROJECT
Like Many African countries, Malawi experiences low enrolment in the primary school due to, among other things, poverty. Most families fail to provide the basic necessities to school going children. Despite government’s efforts through offering free primary education-like the case in Malawi- children usually go to school on an empty stomach. This affects their learning and subsequently acts as a catalyst for absenteeism which is later followed by high dropout rates. To address this, the Ministry of Education Science and Technology (MoEST) through the 2008 School Health and Nutrition Strategy (SHN), advocates for the provision of school meals with an aim of reducing dropouts and at the same time, improving the nutritional well-being of the children. Since then, a lot of organizations have supported government’s efforts on such through provision of the school meals materials. Foundation for Irrigation and Sustainable Development (FISD), a local NGO, is one of such organizations which, through donor funds, has for the past decade been involved in the school meals program. Currently, FISD is working with JTI through the ARISE program, in implementing the Irrigated School Gardens for Sustainable School Meals Project (ISGSSMP). Currently, the project is being implemented in three countries namely Malawi, Zambia and Tanzania. Malawi alone has 12 schools in three districts. Dowa has two schools (Mlengwe and Manthimba), Lilongwe has five schools (Malikha, Mnkhupa, Kanthonga, Mnchemani and Chiponde) and Ntcheu has five schools as well (Dauka, Kampanje, Livulezi, Muuso and Ganya). Zambia has seven Schools (Chikomeni, Mwita, St. Margret, Vizenge, Lukusuzi, Mphomwa and Diwa). In this project, schools own gardens on which they plant crops watered either by rains or irrigation. At first, they would grow maize and the harvests were being used in the preparation of school meals but the project has now gone commercial i.e. the schools are being urged to grow high value cash crops so that the proceeds should be used in purchasing school meals materials.
WFP Funded School Meals Project
In Ertharin Cousin’s words, “You can keep saving the same lives every year, we need to make changes to their lives so they don’t need saving”. For some years now, the World Food Program has been committed to arresting starvation engineered primary school dropout. Their efforts date back to 1994 when their pioneering project was incepted and have since worked with 24 schools. WFP has for a long time been using two models; centralised and decentralised model.
In the centralised model processed food items such as Soy-Corn Blend flour are distributed to Schools for social support .In decentralised model, with specific reference to WFP, fund are transferred through the district councils so that schools can purchase food items locally. The problem in the above models was that they lack sustainability strategy once the donors pull out.
Seeing that the model being implemented by FISD in Sustainable Irrigated School Gardens for Sustainable School meals project is sustainable, WFP thought of partnering with FISD to try its model on two schools in Salima and Dedza. The main aim of the project is to reduce school dropout rates among primary school pupils through provision of nutritious schools meals (Mainly Corn-Soya Blend). Currently, the project is still in its production stage. The year 2017 saw the construction works take shape to almost 90% complete. The only things remaining are pipeline network fittings and elevation of water storage tanks. Since this is rainy season, the schools have been urged to prepare nursery beds in readiness for tomato and onion planting. Actually, the school meals are supposed to be given on a daily basis but for a start the frequency among the schools ranges from two to three times a week. With the inclusion of the agribusiness component in the project, there is greater hope than before that the frequency will surely increase.
In a quest to promote the right to adequate food, the Foundation for Irrigation and Sustainable Development (FISD) in collaboration with Green Livelihood (GL) embarked on a project in Dowa district with funding from the Dan Church Aid (DCA). The project has been operational for the previous two years in Chivala EPA in the district. The project sets out to promote accessibility to productive assets among right holders; improve participation of the right holders in food security decision making processes and enhance right holders resilience to climate change. To satisfy this set of objectives, an innovative array of interventions are being promoted by the project which includes bee keeping, village savings and loans group promotion, strengthening of Village Agriculture Committees, crop diversification and irrigation among others. Notable strides have been achieved towards fulfilling the set project agenda. Cumulatively, the second year has registered about 30 % increase in right holder accessibility to livelihood productive assets through direct project injection of activity raw material and resultant of activities. Such assets include livestock, backyard garden and agriculture inputs. Such achievement happened due to improved interface between right holders and duty bearers and expanded livelihood base for women, youth and men in the catchment. Furthermore, the project has enhanced right holders capacity to adapt to climate change influences through economic empowerment of over 4,000 right holders and promotion of crop diversification. Generally, with other interventions such as the VACs formation, village savings and loans groups about 25% right holder participation improvement rate has been achieved in decision making processes. Generally, the project has a high score for replicability and it has been revealed that economic empowerment of the rural right holders hold a pivotal role in influencing access to productive assets and service as well as on building resilience to climate shocks.
With a US$ 718,201.00grant, FISD is implementing the Integrated Approaches to Natural Resources Management and Conservation for sustainable Hydro-power (INA-CoSH) Project in the Lunzu-Linjidzi (Blantyre) priority sub-catchment under the environmental and natural resources management (ENRM) project funded by MCA-Malawi. The project seeks to address the ENRM related prevailing challenges leading to the inefficient power generation by Electricity Generation Company (EGENCO). Specifically the project intends to contribute towards sustainable community poverty reduction through social economic empowerment and it envisages that at least 13,000 farm families in the sub-catchment would benefit through a myriad of approaches for management, conservation and protection of natural resources. One of the key interventions that has drawn the attention of many people in Blantyre and the surrounding districts is the promotion of solar Irrigation farming, through the construction of Bakasala Solar Irrigation Scheme.
The marginalization of women is largely routed from our culture and has consequently fueled the drop-out rate of girl students in schools country wide. SPISES is a THREE years project whose core quest is to arrest the rising drop-out rate of girl-students in secondary schools by keeping girls in school and also by bringing the dropouts back to school. The project has targeted twelve Community Day Secondary schools in the Seven districts of Mzimba, Dowa, Ntchisi, Ntcheu, Mchinji, Lilongwe and Neno.
The project seeks to keep girls in school by providing bursaries to those whose parents can’t afford to support their education. In the first year we have embarked on direct bursaries whilst in the second and third year we will give the target schools Solar Irrigation Kits for use in their gardens to raise funds and borne the educational expenses of the girls.
We have so far worked with the existing community structure. These people are conversant with the people in their communities and know well who drop out and the reasons for quitting. Upon successful training of the relevant stakeholders in mother group establishment, sanitary pad making and menstrual hygiene, bursary management and sexual reproductive health, we work with the mother groups and girl alliances to bring back those that drop out due to early marriages and premarital pregnancies. For those that drop out because of the long distance to school the project also has a bicycle scheme to iron out the distance challenge. The baseline survey reported financial constraint as one major factor limiting girls and other vulnerable students from accessing education. In addressing this, the project supported a total of 324 students through direct bursary in the year 2018. 63% of these students are female. In 2018 the project also managed to install 8 solar powered irrigation systems at Ngowe, Chimteka, Chinziri, M’dika, Nyangoza, Kanjiwa, Chikonde and Tsangano CDSSs. The Progress of full irrigation system installation is estimated at 66.7%. Land preparation, Nursery preparation, and crop production are in progress. The area under irrigation at Ngowe Garden is 70m X 35m it has 156 beds of Onion with an average of 129 onion per bed. In total, the project will have 20,124 onions and if each could be sold at K50.00, a total of K 1,006,200.00 will be raised against a total of K673, 000 which was spent on Inputs (seed, manure, fertilizer, security, management, land preparation, sprayer etc). With this, a profit of K333, 200.00 will be made, and it can cover 3 terms fees for 11 students, or 1 term fees for 33 students With the aim of challenging the prevalent low self-esteem in the female students, inspirational and motivational talks by female speakers of various professions was conducted in 8 schools Manyamula, Kanjiwa, Mnjiri, Emthuzini, Kanjiwa, Nyangoza, M’dika and Chinziri.