This initiative is a three and half years project, initially co-funded by Barilla and then carried out by Save the Children alone with donations from individuals. Its goal is to improve food and nutrition security for 11.000 under-five children hosted by 8.311 households in the Traditional Authority (TA) of Mpama and Likoswe in Malawi. This has been done working on three different areas:
- enhancing nutrition status of 11.000 under-five children: at the end of the project there is an increased adoption of improved nutrition and complementary health behavior practices and an improved food utilization;
- increasing the agricultural production for 8.311 households: at the end of the project the production of legumes and sweet potatoes and of livestock has significantly augmented;
- enhancing and diversifying the income for 8.311 households: at the end of the project the access to markets has increased and well-functioning Village Savings and Loan Groups have been established.
Save the Children Italy - ItalyLead applicant
Save the Children is the leading Independent Organization that works to improve the lives of children in Italy and in the world. Since 1919, it operates in 120 countries through a network of 30 national organizations and an international structure (Save the Children International). In the World, Save the Children is a Non Governmental Organization (NGO) with consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC). Save the Children implements - in close collaboration with local communities - medium and long term programs and intervenes in emergency situations caused by conflicts or natural disasters. It also puts pressure on governments and national and international institutions in order to improve the living conditions of children. It operates in the following areas: education, health, emergency response, protection from abuse and exploitation, fight against poverty and food security, strengthening child protection systems and child participation.
Opportunity International Bank of Malawi - MalawiInitiative partner
VISION: Our vision is a world in which all people have the opportunity to achieve a life free from poverty, with dignity and purpose. MISSION: By providing financial solutions and training, we empower people living in poverty to transform their lives, their children’s futures and their communities. HOW: We support local microfinance organizations that provide innovative financial solutions to empower people, create jobs and build vibrant communities. Our products, services and trainings enable clients to develop businesses, to save and to insure a promising future. We strengthen and influence value chains to benefit our clients, connect them to viable markets and drive economic progress. We create innovative partnerships to provide complementary services to our clients. We seek to impact the lives of our clients, staff and supporters.
Bunda College of Agriculture, Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources - MalawiInitiative partner
To advance knowledge and produce relevant graduates with entrepreneurship skills for agricultural growth, food security, wealth creation and sustainable natural resources management, through teaching, training, research, outreach consultancy and sound management.
Save the Children Malawi - MalawiInitiative partner
The key feature of Save the Children’s approach is to support development and effective implementation of government-led programmes, by aligning with national priorities, as articulated in the MDGs, MGDS and sector plans through the following breakthroughs: - Child Health and Nutrition: No child under five dies from preventable causes; and the public will not tolerate a return to high levels of child deaths. - Education: All children can read by the time they leave primary school; and children caught up in humanitarian crises have access to quality education. - Child Protection: All children thrive in a safe family environment; and no child is placed in harmful institutions. - Child Rights Governance: All children, especially the poorest, benefit from greater public investment and better use of society’s resources in realizing their rights.
‘Seeds of Knowledge - Seeds of Change’ This is the story of low income and marginalized families and farmers based in rural areas of southern Malawi, who had the chance through Save the Children's intervention, to expand their human capital and trigger a change in their paths as well as offering a better life to their children. By absorbing improved nutritional attitudes and behaviors, young mothers give to their children a healthier life. By employing traditional agricultural practices, the land gets restored, the food quality is enhanced and the livestock production is ensured. By promoting new income generating activities and financial support mechanisms, households acquire a safer environment to go ahead. In this framework of best practice we wish to tell their stories: success stories that deserve to be told.
‘Selecting Best Seeds'
Save the Children’s project adopts a grassroots-based integrated approach, which identifies local positive resources and focuses on the wider transfer of those knowledge and skills already existing in the community:
- It identifies and promotes positive and culturally appropriate practices in nourishing and caring for children. This is achieved through a community learning process led by mother-to-mother support groups using innovative participatory techniques (e.g. plays and storytelling);
- it fosters the adoption of best husbandry practices for chickens and soil/water conservation technologies rooted in the local culture (e.g. positive evidence of home-made food for poultry proves healthier animals);
- it builds on existing farmers’ groups by structuring them in cooperatives and linking them to key actors. It develops farmers’ capacities in raising and mobilizing funds within the same community through the Village Savings and Loans model.
‘Know the soil and remove the weeds’
Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world, ranked 170 out of 186 in the Human Development Index and a GNI per capita of US$320. After decades of underdevelopment and a growing HIV/AIDS problem, Malawi is struggling to get back on its feet. Although its population (almost 18 millions) mainly lives on agriculture, 45,4% of children under 5 still suffer from malnutrition, and an extremely low percentage of families are food secure (10,2%). The average diet is built by 60% of starches and has micronutrient deficiencies, also due to feeding practices. Only 11,7% of households harvest adequate energy foods and less than 7% of them consume chicken. This landlocked country often undergoes extreme natural disasters -from heavy rainfall to drought- which continually put at stakes the harvest. Moreover, weak agricultural techniques and the use of chemical fertilizers have deteriorated the soil quality, increasing the exposure to droughts and floods.
‘Harvesting the Good Crops’
- Reduced cases of cholera, malaria, diarrhea and pneumonia since specific training sessions and use of Energy Saving Stoves. Reduced incidence of malnutrition, increased frequency of breastfeeding, higher proportion of mothers taking children for growth monitoring and with acceptable food consumption scores, due to behavior change interventions and cooking demonstrations.
- Improved soil fertility through increased cultivation of pigeon peas, groundnuts and soybeans;
- increased supply of vitamin-A (through vitamin-A enriched sweet potatoes) and nutritious fruits by enhancing productivity of fruit trees;
- improved poultry production and consume of animal proteins.
- Higher income from selling agricultural products thanks to better in production and better in storage;
- more opportunities for agribusiness started-up and managed using the productive loans from 300 Village Savings and Loans associations.
‘Give me a seed and I’ll give you a plant’
8,311 households with under-five children living in areas affected by chronic malnutrition in Chiradzulu District benefitted from Save the Children’s intervention. Their most urgent needs are:
- Meet their dietary requirements, especially in terms of animal protein intake: they have unsatisfactory food consumption scores and low dietary diversity. Even though half of the households keep livestock (mainly chicken) they do not use it as meat/diary product and they lack skills in food processing;
- improve crop productivity: families strongly depend on farming but the food they harvest is not enough to take them throughout the year;
- access markets for their products: small holder farmers lack a proper understanding of the functioning of markets, as well as skills to enter and participate in it;
- diversify income to buy more nutritious food: they need a better access to financial services and skills to start new income generating activities.
‘We are more than farmers, we are seeds’ guardians’
Save the Children:
Project Manager, in charge of managing the grant and the team;
Nutrition Assistant, in charge of building the skills in maternal child health and nutrition;
Agriculture Extension Assistant, in charge of crop production matters;
Monitoring Evaluation learning manager.
Bunda College of Agriculture:
Professor of Animal Breeding and a team of technicians, in charge of livestock production;
Opportunity International Bank of Malawi:
Project Manager and a Loan Officer coordinating the activities related to loans and savings.
The project has also worked in collaboration with community structures:
14 Health promoters working with 760 lead volunteers on health and nutrition issues;
21 Community Agents working with Village Savings and Loans groups;
147 Lead farmers supporting agricultural production;
21 Paravets supporting livestock farming;
21 Agribusiness Chairpersons working with producer groups for marketing activities.
‘Solutions for brooding chicks’
The incubator used by the government for the provision of chicks broke just before the distribution, and the project had to source them from private suppliers, whose prices were slightly higher. In order to ensure that every household planned still had the opportunity to receive chicks, Save the Children proposed three conditions under which, those interested in receiving a chick, were advised to: 1) prepare home-made feed, 2) agree that they will donate 5 other chicks to their fellow farmers with under five children, 3) vaccinate the chickens every 3months, by paying a fixed fee, which paravets charge per each vaccination. An agreement was elaborated and signed by both parties and witnessed by the Village Committee Representatives. This arrangement encouraged farmers to take good care of their chickens, as well as ensuring that more farmers were and will be engaged as active beneficiaries even if the original number of chicken was lower than planned.
‘Local seeds mean green processes’
- Defense of biodiversity and prevention of soil’s impoverishment: the project contributes to maintain the diversity of local crops by promoting the use of local nutritious seeds and their wild relatives such as kamganje, luni and amaranthus.
- Soil and water conservation: the project introduced a model based on regular shift of legumes, sweet potatoes and fruits production (which do not require chemical fertilizers and fix nitrogen in the soil). An effective water management is guaranteed by the creation of a water collection system, which effectively distributes water for domestic and agricultural use.
- Agricultural waste management: green waste from agriculture is used to produce home-made food for animals.
- Forest preservation: the introduction of improved stoves for cooking and heating has reduced the necessity to cut wood for energy consumption, with positive health outcomes (e.g. reduction of cases of pneumonia).
‘Sharing seeds - sharing knowledge’
Save the Children’s project has been duplicated to another district called Neno, in partnership with Bunda College and the Ministry of Agriculture. The following models were developed and have being replicated:
- Care Group Approach, through which every targeted household is supported directly by a lead volunteer, assigned to at least 10 new initial households.
- Private Service Provider (PSP) model, through which the best performing Community Agents will be certified as PSP and will support Village Savings and Loans groups on a paid basis by community members.
- Increased utilization of paravets, adequately trained on identifying and treating poultry diseases, who are put in the condition to buy medications from the vet clinic and sell their services to local farmers, with a reduction of chickens’ death.
- Marketing Clusters, responsible for mobilizing farmers to buy inputs in bulk, reducing costs, and sell in bulk negotiating for better prices.
‘Bring Malawi to the World’
How do we plan to disseminate the results of Save the Children's intervention?
- By publishing in scientific journals several pieces of relevant researches such as: 1) evaluation of crossbreeding of Black Australorp with local chickens under different management systems and 2) evaluation of feed supplement for scavenging chickens.
- By integrating policy briefs: the innovative and alternative options for crossing local chickens under scavenging systems will be presented at Civil Society Agriculture Network (CISANET).
- By spreading the experience with the Everyone Campaign of Save the Children Italy, which states that ‘No child is born to die. And no mother should die giving birth’. In particular, the 2014 campaign focuses on the impacts of food insecurity and malnutrition on young-mothers and newborns. The initiative presented herein, has been included in the report of the 2014 Everyone Campaign to testify and disseminate a best practice.