Monday, March 30, 2009

CORDAID official visits ASAP projects in Malawi...pledges financial support

“What is crucial in your programs is that the poor themselves harness their own capabilities to become the real actors and agents in development, shaping all development processes and projects affecting them”. This comment came from Mark Rietveld, CORDAID´s Program Officer responsible for Entrepreneurship Sector, after spending the day hosted by the ASAP Malawi team on March 26. Mark visited ASAP in Malawi to get a sense of what was happening on the ground and establish a long-term relationship. His visit included a meeting with management staff at the ASAP Malawi Offices and field visits to the project sites.

The visit gave Mark an opportunity to hear and see for himself what ASAP had achieved within three months with financial support from CORDAID.
After the meeting with management it was time to match office reports with what had been done at community level. In this picture Mark listens to presentations from local leaders at Jailosi village.Here he was briefed by community leaders and Village Savings and Lending group leaders. The local leaders commended ASAP for changing the mindset of community members and giving them skills and knowledge to be able to find solutions to their economic problems using the locally available resources.

They also expressed their desire for ASAP to increase the number of field staff so that the program can service more villages within the community in view of the high demand for ASAP services.
In this picture Mark is welcomed at Chazunzika village by dancing VS&L group members.
Pictured here are jubilant VS&L group members dancing after explaining and showing the visitor how they mobilize savings and lend the money among themselves as Mark looks on.

Friday, March 27, 2009

ASAP in tireless efforts to mitigate the impact of looming hunger in Chikwawa ...distributes fifty treadle pumps to affected households in Malawi

In a move that has been described as first of its kind by both the District Commissioner (DC) and District Agricultural Development Officer (DADO) for Chikwawa, ASAP in collaboration with its developmental partner, Total Land Care (TLC) distributed treadle pumps and farm input packs to fifty community members that have been severely hit by the widespread drought in Chikwawa district. This was done with a view to helping the affected community members to start small-scale irrigation. Pictured here are ASAP Program Manager (left), Victor Katchika-Jere, receiving a truckload of treadle pumps and farm inputs from TLC´s Irrigation Specialist, Mlozi Banda.The irrigation package comprises user-friendly and modern “super money maker” treadle pumps and accessories, maize, bean, tomato and onion seed and fertilizer, and is worth US $360. In a bid to fight dependency syndrome and enhance the self-help element, ASAP distributed the irrigation packages to beneficiaries at subsidized prices and not as free handouts.
Before distributing the irrigation package ASAP in collaboration with TLC organised a two-day small-scale irrigation training for the fifty recipients. The group comprised men and women from six villages. Participants were trained in treadle pump assembling, dismantling and maintenance, plot layout and construction of canals. In the picture here, training participants brave the scorching sun to take part in a plot layout session.At the end of the two days of hard work and in-depth discussion, women participants could not help to take to the floor to celebrate their acquisition of new skill and knowledge in style. “This has been a life-changing experience. How I wish ASAP had started their activities in our communities ten years ago! Our situation would have changed for the better by now,” said Chief Chazunzika´s wife who was one of the participants to the training and is captured in this picture leading a group of dancing women.
ASAP is implementing the Chimvano pa Chuma Project (CCP), “Unity for Economic Growth” in the Chichewa language in Chikwawa. The goal of the three-year project is to enhance the socio-economic status at household level for 16,433 beneficiaries living in marginalized communities.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Prayers for ASAP Field Officer's Family

Kenneth Bariri's wife and his 9 month year old son were attacked by cholera on Thursday 19 March 2009. Nurses at Elim Hospital treated the patients and sprayed the whole family members by disinfectants. The two are now in stable condition under detention and close surveillance at the hospital. We pray that they soon recover.

There have been over 4,037 deaths from cholera in Zimbabwe since the outbreak began in August 2008. ASAP field officers are actively involved in cholera prevention in the areas they serve, working together with Catholic Relief Services and UNICEF.

In Malawi last week, Jeanette Batiste was surprise the discover her neighbor's child was also suffering from the disease. To date there have been three cholera cases reported in the Chikwawa region of Malawi.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Chikwawa District Faces Looming widespread drought destroys crops

Submitted by Victor Katchika-Jere
Pictured here is Mrs Mashaweni of Jailosi Village in Ndakwera whose maize crop has been affected beyond redemption. Chikwawa is one of the districts in the Shire Valley where ASAP is implementing the Chimvano pa Chuma Project (CCP). The project comprises Village Savings and Lending (VS&L) Project along with small-scale irrigation and conservation agriculture activities in order to improve livelihoods of the beneficiaries and enhance food security at household level. The demand for such initiatives has heightened due to the continuous and widespread dry spell, which the district is experiencing and has lasted for over four weeks.
The absence of rains coupled with hot weather conditions have led to serious crop conditions. The two project sites for ASAP in the district; Ndakwera and Kabwatika are among the hardest hit according to the recent press release from the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security.
In these two areas, the maize crop has reached permanent wilting point such that it would not recuperate even if the rains started falling normally today. While there has been total loss of some maize, the drought tolerant crops like sorghum and pigeon peas are withstanding the dry spell. Thanks to ASAP´s seed multiplication initiative beneficiaries are able to access these drought tolerant varieties!
In view of this development, ASAP is mobilizing communities around small-scale irrigation. ASAP has already planned to provide 50 treadle pumps at subsidized prices to some of the affected community members to start small-scale irrigation using the dams which were constructed to harvest water at the time when rains were falling normally.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Schools in Zimbabwe Open

Schools finally opened in Zimbabwe on March 2nd. Normally the school year begins in January, so there is some catching up to do! This is the fifth and final year of ASAP's Bridge the Gap (BTG) Math education project and teachers and students are working hard to produce results.ASAP, and all other organizations working to improve the quality of life in the Nyanga district of rural Zimbabwe came together for a meeting with Acting District Education Officer Mr. Haukozi before school reopened. It is because of Mr. Haukozi's written request for the BTG project in 2004 that ASAP works in Nyanga District today. As he stated in his letter "...Math stimulates logical thing and develops inquisitive minds."

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Cholera in Zimbabwe

Medical experts have forecast that a worst-case scenario in Zimbabwe's rampaging cholera epidemic could see earlier predictions double to 123 000 cases and go beyond May this year. Just over a week ago, according to the Zimbabwean Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR), the epidemic passed Africa's worst, in Angola in 2007, when over 82 000 people were infected with the highly infectious water-borne disease and 3 204 died. Late last year the World Health Organisation estimated that the worst-case figure could reach 60 000 cases, a level passed already in January. By Friday last week the WHO had recorded 84 027 cases, with 3 894 deaths recorded in Zimbabwe.

Your donation to ASAP today will help prevent the transmission of cholera in the rural villages of Eastern Zimbabwe. CLICK HERE to donate now.