Trip to Malawi in October 2017

Margaret Geraghty, Ann Blehein and Aidan Berry travelled to Malawi in October to meet with the Zikomo board there, and to visit the villages to see the results of the work done so far, ascertain where the greatest needs currently are, and with the committee plan the work for 2018.

Crop Production Programme

October is near the end of the dry season in Malawi, everywhere the ground was prepared for seed sowing which will commence with the rains in November. But in the poorer villages they do not have enough seeds to plant a variety of crops. The plan is to set up a committee in each village and give them training on seed selection and the management of the seed distribution. Seeds (groundnuts and soya beans) will need to be purchased to start the scheme off. These seeds will then be distributed to families which have no seed (1kg/1.5kg to each family), then these families will in turn donate double this amount of seed back to the committee, who will then distribute it to new families. In this way the programme will be self-sustaining. Needs assessment has been done in the villages and the committees have been selected.

Orphans and Vulnerable Children Programme

Zikomo has built three community resource centres and a bakery, it has funded the making of the traditional burnt clay bricks for these buildings and used of local labour. Preschool teachers have been trained. Clothes and food are provided for the children – currently the main food is a maize porridge but a high-protein porridge made from soya is being looked at.

Youth Programme

There is a big focus on HIV/AIDS education as part of life skills training for the youth programmes. Zikomo provides the educational materials and training. The youth have also had training in carpentry and tailoring. Zikomo has also run adult literacy classes.

Bee Keeping Programme

Zikomo has provided hives, equipment and training for bee keeping in three of the villages. The honey produced can be sold and be a source of income for the village.

Livestock Programme

The goat breeding programmes have been very successful in the villages. The goats were purchased locally and were all bred in Africa. The areas where we work never had goats before. The first few goats came as a result of a donation from the children in the Claddagh school.

Priority areas for funding in 2018

In two of the villages (Nsadi and Likwanya) the shallow wells have run dry due to a lowering of the water table, this is the sad reflection on the results of global warming.
• Hire consultant to determine required well depth
• Dig the deeper wells

Seed programme:
• Train the seed committees
• Procure seeds for distribution
• Procure cassava cuttings
• Train farmers in crop husbandry

Secondary school education
USAID has recently decided to fund the provision of secondary school education for three years in government schools for girls, in three areas including Zomba and Machinga (where the villages we work with are located). This will take some time to roll out and has not happened for this year.
• Work with village committees to identify youth who have passed the required exams but cannot afford the secondary school fees.

Building program
Rather than building resource centres as in the past, Zikomo will now focus on building two-room preschool blocks (which can also be used for other community purposes).