The Nkhata Bay Natural Way Project (NBNW) – one of the largest and most significant initiatives ever supported by ITF – was successfully launched at the weekend.
The official launch in Usisya, Malawi, was attended by 200 people including traditional leaders, representatives of faith and human rights groups, project staff and volunteers and the guest of honour, Senior Chief Mbwana.
To help make the launch go off with a bang, tents were hired from the Malawi Defence Force, food and refreshments were served and traditional dancing was performed by Malipenga and Chioda from Usisya. The event was covered by media including Usisya Community Radio, Nation, Times and Zodiac (Radio and TV).
Arthur Kambombe, Temwa Programme Director, said: “It went beyond our expectations. When it started in the morning it was a little disappointing but then all of a sudden people started coming. It was a very colourful occasion, every one ate nice food and was well pleased.
“Everyone was excited, the whole team, the Chief and even the media, who said the launch was much more than they expected – and also commented that they thought it was a very good project.”
NBNW is a ground-breaking collaborative programme involving ITF (the lead partner), Temwa (Malawi) and Deki Ltd funded by the UK Big Lottery Fund and JJ Charitable Trust with a total budget of £642, 541.
It will target marginalised groups in 110 villages in the Nkhata Bay North District, one of the most underprivileged areas of Malawi. Malawi is the seventh poorest country in the world, with more than 60 per cent of the population living below the poverty line and 17 per cent living in absolute poverty. Around 16 per cent of 15-49-year-old are HIV positive.
Over four years the NBNW will select 3,300 direct participants. When family members are taken into account, this means the project will impact the lives of nearly 25,000 people. Participants will be chosen from large households with eight or more dependents, orphan-hosting and female-headed households, families with a member who is HIV positive and young people aged 18-35. More than half of all participants will be women.
The planned key outcomes are:
– improved food security and nutrition for disadvantaged households through the adoption of environmentally-sustainable farming.
– community stewardship of forest conservation and management to promote tree planting, reforestation and fair and sustainable access to forest resources
– increased income for disadvantaged households through the establishment of forest-friendly businesses and micro enterprises, supported by loans and skills training.
– strengthened local governance structures geared towards sustainable natural resource management and improved livelihood choices.
A project team has been set up comprising a Project manager, Benson Chiumia, six field officers and two field co-ordinators, who combine practical field skills with understanding of local communities. A Project Officer (Agroforestry), Anne Kampezeni and a Micro-Finance Manager, Maria Godwa, have also been appointed.
The project team is being supported by a newly-appointed Programme Manager, Emmanuel Banda, the Finance Manager, Charles Nyekanyeka, the Temwa Programme Director, Arthur Kambombe, and the Temwa Malawi Board.
In recent years Malawi has been increasingly subjected to climatic shocks, further eroding the resilience of some of the poorest communities already facing chronic levels of food insecurity and malnutrition.
Mismanagement of forest resources has directly contributed to progressive environmental degradation with increasing climate related shocks being coupled with a reduction in the communities’ ability to respond effectively. In 2012, the River Sasasa, a main water supply, dried up causing loss of crops for thousands of households and increased water borne diseases.
Following the launch, over the next month the TEMWA team will hold meetings with communities in 23 locations, to raise awareness and understanding of what the project is trying to achieve and how people can become involved. During the first year we are expecting 500 farmers to join in sustainable agriculture activities, and 86 to become Lead Farmers; 46 Community Extension Volunteers will be selected to represent the project in the communities.
ITF’s Programmes Manager, Paul Laird, who visited the project area in August with Chief executive Andy Egan, said: “This is just the start of a programme of activities to help local communities improve their livelihoods and their management of natural resources. The project draws on practical experience gained in the area over a number of years and a deep understanding of the challenges faced by local people. It is great to see the project getting off to such a strong start.”