Patient and Community Welfare Foundation of Malawi - Supporting patients and their families to grow food during the pandemic
Patient and Community Welfare Foundation of Malawi (PAWEM) participated in the IAPO COVID-19 Response Activity Grant Scheme by promoting horticultural production through small scale irrigation in order to increase the supply of food to patients and their families. Family members were engaged in the active production of vegetable crops with the aim of promoting a healthy lifestyle and reducing mobility in a bid to prevent the COVID-19 spread.
We created awareness and sensitizations to key staff, partners, local leaders and community groups. That was done in order to improve coordination during the activity implementation, a total of 5 meetings were conducted, and the meetings enabled smooth commencement of the activity implementation.
PAWEM worked in collaboration with the following key partners: the Ministry of Agriculture, Sustainable Rural and Community Development (SURCOD), Community Forum (COFO), key political figures and local leaders. The Area Development Committee (ADC) Chairpersons drawn from the impact areas to lobby for their support in monitoring and encouraging the groups.
A road map in the implementation of the activity was drawn that included awareness and sensitization meetings, identification and establishment groups, strengthening existing groups, on farm demonstrations in sunken bed making and planting of vegetable seeds and mulching.
The activity engaged 17 groups who benefitted and received various varieties of vegetable seed and only one group benefitted from maize seed. The total number of people reached with this activity so far is 359 from the 17 groups of which 147 were women. From the 17 groups PAWEM registered 11 support groups and one group from Chikwawa Prison.
About 60% of the groups did not perform well because of the following factors: it was already off season for vegetable production, hot weather condition experienced in the district with temperatures ranging from 28 Degree Celsius to 44 Degree Celsius, rainfall contributed because the majority of groups planted during the onset of the rainy season. Thereby inhibiting germination of vegetable seed, more especially leafy vegetables. Another challenge was that a number of groups established gardens along the Shire River for water availability and with the rainfall; the crops were affected due to flooding of the river and pest attack.
Despite the above challenges 40% of the groups benefitted from the activity because they planted earlier, and the crops were not affected by the floods because their gardens were not in the wetland but rather located in arable land. They managed to harvest vegetables for consumption and some sold to fellow community members like Chikwawa Prison and Tipindule Club.
With the few packets of seed remaining, PAWEM will engage few groups to continue with the activity on the onset of the winter season. One of the lessons learnt was that the groups were hard working, and eager to benefit from the intervention if the setbacks were not there. Another lesson learnt was that the activity missed the winter season making some fail to perform.
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