Spotlight on: Malawi

Malawi - ERPIM

Find Your Feet has been working with poor families in rural northern Malawi since 2002. Five years ago we started a project in the Rumphi district, which successfully helped reduce the hunger and poverty of rural farmers and their families. Due to this success, and building on what had been learnt, we expanded into two new districts Mzimba and Nkhata Bay thanks to support from Big Lottery Fund and The Development Fund. Here's an update on the progress we've made over the last year.

Using our innovative lead farmer method, 15 skilled farmers have been identified by their communities to receive training in sustainable farming techniques, communication and leadership skills. Lead farmers have a multiplier effect, with those trained going on to share their knowledge. To date, from just 15 farmers an additional 345 farmers have benefitted.

Beyond farming, the project also helps local people set up small businesses and increase their income. Previously, local people found it difficult to get a loan from the bank. Village Savings and Loans schemes have started in 30 villages which now have 450 members; all contribute a small amount of money to the group which is pooled together and loaned to members. So far, 10 new businesses have been started including a bakery. As the loans are repaid, more members will be able to benefit and start their own business too.

Finally, it is impossible to ignore the devastating impact of HIV/AIDS on rural families in Malawi, which is why the project is increasing access to prevention, testing, care and support services including training people living with HIV/AIDS on nutrition and sustainable agriculture to improve their diet and health.

Working with communities to improve their farming techniques and start their own businesses has a huge impact on reducing their hunger and poverty. But we know that this alone is not enough; alongside this work we are helping to develop local leadership so that communities can be in charge of their own development, and continue to build on the progress they have made with Find Your Feet far into the future.

Watch this space to hear more about how the communities of Mzimba and Nkhata Bay are build a future free from poverty.

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