Mzuzu integrated community development program
The Mzuzu Integrated Community Development program improves standards of living for the rural poor.
About the program
Lessons learned from the successful program which operated from 2007 to 2010 in St John’s Parish in the Mzuzu area of Malawi are now being applied to the Mzimba district in 2012.
More than 8 million Malawians – around half the population – live below the poverty line. More than 80 percent live in rural areas and depend on subsistence farming for their livelihoods. Chronic malnutrition, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, substandard health services and lack of clean drinking water combine to give Malawi one of the lowest life expectancies in the world. Malawians born today are expected to live for just 55 years.
The Mzuzu Integrated Community Development program in Mzimba works with the people worst affected by these conditions. It improves standards of living for the rural poor by improving food security. By June 2013 the program aims to have increased farm production for 525 households; to have established savings schemes for 525 households, and to have increased access to clean water and sanitary facilities for at least 1,250 people.
The program takes a holistic approach to development. Malawi is one of the world’s poorest countries, suffering from high levels of food insecurity. This program helps to ensure that the food and water needs of people in rural and remote areas are not neglected, and aims to secure improvements to living standards into the future.
Bule lives in Gamphani village, Mzuzu Diocese. Before 2007 Bule depended on casual farm-hand jobs and his family suffered diarrhoea and abdominal problems from drinking unclean water from the local well. Bule's son Wesley was often tired from the 11km walk to school, and his studies were affected by poor health.
In 2007, Bule joined the Caritas-supported program in Mzuzu, attending training at the community borehole on how to increase vegetable production from his small home garden. He learnt to make organic compost, simple techniques for soil and water conservation and food storage methods. He also received a loan of a goat and resilient seeds to plant at the start of the rainy season.
Bule's family and other families in the program now have a more predictable food supply and income. Waterborne diseases have greatly reduced since the boreholes were installed and time, once spent fetching water, can now be used on other productive activities. People are feeling more empowered to take on the challenges they face and many more families would like to join the project.
Bule is now able to confidently pay for school fees and encourages Wesley’s hope to study medicine. He knows he will be able to repay his goat loan and sell goats in future. “Instead of buying vegetables, we’re eating them from our own garden. I can sell some soya and maize and earn up to $6 a day on average — we’re eating three meals a day now,” he said. “I wish for Wesley to finish his education, to be employed and self reliant, so that he should not face the same problems I have gone through.”