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New lease of life: Estida Msonda standing on her newly built house.
Karonga District Council Commends Development Desk’s Disaster Preparedness Project

By Ellah Chirwa

Karonga District Council has commended the Development Desk (also known as CADECOM) of the Diocese of Karonga for training communities, living in disaster prone areas of Traditional Authorities Mwkaboko, Mwirangombe and Wasambo, in disaster preparedness.

New lease of life: Estida Msonda standing on her newly built house.
New lease of life: Estida Msonda standing on her newly built house.

This commendation was made by Senior Fire Officer in the Department of Disaster – Search and Rescue Cluster, Nicholas Chirwa, during a joint field monitoring tour in areas that are prone to strong winds and floods organised by the Development Desk in collaboration with Karonga District Council.

In an interview the council’s representative, Nicholas Chirwa, said as a council, they are impressed with the way people have responded to the project’s interventions saying they are sure that many people will be protected from possible disasters in the coming rainy season. He further said the project has assisted residents to understand that disasters can be prevented.

“The project had a number of interventions such as training in borehole rehabilitation, demonstration of strong winds and flood resistant houses, tree planting, and planting river gauge and rain gauge which have adopted by the community,” Chirwa said.

Chirwa further urged the Development Desk to continue with the project saying this will help the district to significantly reduce disaster records.

In his remarks Matthias Bulukutu, who is the coordinator of the project, said he was satisfied with the positive response from the communities.

“At least three vulnerable people were selected as beneficiaries for the demonstration houses designed to resist wind and water pressure, 8 thousand tree seedlings were distributed in the three impact areas, and three boreholes were also rehabilitated,” Bulukutu said.

Bulukutu further urged the community members to continue participating in the project to ensure sustainability of the interventions.

One of the beneficiaries selected for the demonstrations of houses, Estida Msonda, 65 years old, has appreciated the Development Desk for the kind gesture saying the house she was living in with her daughters and grandchildren was not decent enough.

 “To live in an iron sheet thatched house is a testimony I have to give because I was living in a leaking house and it was also infested with mosquitoes. This made our household susceptible to malaria which made us visit the hospital frequently. I will take good care of this house,” Msonda said.

The Development Desk has been implementing the Karonga Participatory Community Action for Preparedness (KPCAP) with the aim of preparing communities living in areas that are prone to natural disasters, such as strong winds and floods.

Estida Msonda's old house
Rehabilitated borehole
Rehabilitated borehole
Disaster resilient house
Disaster resilient house
Picture of Farmers preparing a plot for planting soya beans 1
Development Desk Using Demonstration Plots to Scale up Adoption of Climate Smart Agricultural Technologies

By Franklin Msiska (Development Desk Officer)

The Development Desk in collaboration with the Government Crops, Land Resource and Extension Departments has mounted 94 demonstrations to increase adoption of Climate Smart Agricultural (CSAs) practices under Karonga Diocese’s Integrated Rural Development Project.

Targeting 2,400 smallholder farmers, the project is implemented in Traditional Authorities Mwawulambia, Mwenemisuku and Mwenewenya in Chitipa District and Traditional Authority Kyungu in Karonga District.

This three-year project will help small scale farmers have increased annual agricultural production. In order to adapt to climate change effects small scale farmers are being trained to adopt sustainable agricultural practices which will help them increase yields even when they face extreme weather conditions such as drought during the production season.

Picture of Farmers preparing a plot for planting soya beans 1
Farmers preparing a plot for planting soya beans

Picture of Government and Karonga Diocese staff admiring a demo plot of beans and maize in Chisenga
Government and Karonga Diocese staff admiring a demo plot of beans and maize in Chisenga

Key CSA practices promoted under the project are: planting pits, mixed cropping, use of manure, conservation agriculture (soil cover), crop rotation, agroforestry, and erosion control. The project is using the same demonstration plots also to promote technologies that would minimize the impact of climate change like drought, increased incidences of pest and disease outbreaks etc. These technologies are early maturing, disease resistance, and high yielding varieties in maize, soya beans, pigeon peas, cow peas, and sugar beans.

The demonstration plots are being used to train farmers on how they can use integrated pest management to address the current issue of fall army worms which is also largely connected to the issue of climate change.

The demonstration will also act as trials where these practices will be rotated in 8 plots per site for three years so that farmers can witness the changes taking place in each plot as a result of implementing the practices promoted by the project.

At the end of the project, which is funded by Misereor Germany, at least 65% of the targeted small scale farmers are expected to adopt and continue practicing at least three of the promoted CSA practices.

Pictutre of Figure 2: showing a maize field in Lupembe attacked by the fall army worm
FEATURE: Development Desk Joins the Fight against Fall Armyworms

By Elijah Banda (Development Desk)


The Development Desk of Karonga Diocese with financial support from MISEREOR is implementing a 3 years livelihood project in Karonga and Chitipa Districts. The project aims at building community resilience to the effects of climate change through various adaptation and mitigation strategies.

The Project, among other objectives, is working with farmers in use of climate smart agricultural technologies that have the capability to withstand shock due to climate change. The project has set up demonstration plots in all the 4 traditional authorities under the Project where several practices are showcased such practices are pit planting, conservation agriculture, use of manure in crop production, use of legumes to improve soil fertility and use of water and soil conservation measures for guiding against soil erosion.

Situation analysis of the agricultural production Unit component

Malawi confirmed, in February last year, the presence and attack on maize fields by fall armyworms which reduced yield by almost half. Government took measures to address the problem by buying chemicals to spray against the pest. Due to late delivery and limited access to the chemicals, not all farmers accessed the chemicals hence the pest was not effectively controlled.

During the 2017-18 farming season, Karonga ADD which covers Karonga and Chitipa Districts has reported the attack of the pest in many farmers fields. In Chitipa out of 3,954 hectares (Ha) planted with maize, 3,760 hectares have been attacked by the pest. In Karonga, out of 23,703 hectares of maize fields, 9,921 hectares have been attacked by the pest.

Picture of Figure 1: showing a fall army worm on maize leaves
Figure 1: showing a fall armyworm on maize leaves

Risk associated with the Pest to the farmers

According to the Development Desk the recent attack by fall armyworms is worrisome as it is affecting performance of the set demonstration plots to adequately deliver the intended messages to the farmers. Further to this, the attack by the fall armyworms is a threat to agricultural production by smallholder farmers since the attack reduces yield by almost half.  Crop production by smallholder farmers in the current farming season may be reduce if the pest damage is not contained in time.

Pictutre of Figure 2: showing a maize field in Lupembe attacked by the fall army worm
Figure 2 showing a maize field in Lupembe attacked by the fall armyworm

Efforts by the Development Desk towards the fight against fall army worms

The Development Desk is collaborating with Government through sensitization campaigns through the Radio and extension workers on how farmers could scout for the pest and control it. The Desk is asking farmers to report any attack by fall armyworms to Government extension workers or its Field staff for proper treatment with chemicals that are pre-positioned in extension planning areas (EPAs). Farmers and the wilder farming community are also advised on other biological and physical control measures to control the damaging pest.

Efforts by the Government towards addressing the problem of fall armyworm

Government has received and distributed 500 litres of Chlorpyrifos (Sulban) and armyworm traps to all EPAs in Karonga ADD to fight the pest. Government is further planning for installation of traps for the army worms and delivery of materials is expected from 17 to 19 January, 2018.

Development Desk of Karonga Diocese Launches Rural Livelihood Project

By Elijah Banda

Climate change, as characterized by dry spell, flooding, short rainfall seasons with erratic patterns, is causing a decline in food production by smallholder farmers. Further, the ever increasing national population is exerting putting pressure on natural resources. To mitigate this, on 1st October, 2017, the Development Desk of Karonga Diocese launched a project aimed at building community resilience to the effects of Climate Change and population growth.

This multimillion Kwacha ‘Karonga and Chitipa Integrated Rural Development Project’ targets communities in the areas of Paramount Chief Kyungu in Karonga District and Mwabulambiya, Mwenemisuku and Mwenewenya in Chitipa District. The project is being implemented with financial assistance from MISEREOR Germany.

The project will engage 2400 households to improve natural resource management, annual food production, and household income. The project will also empower 160 young people economically through informal vocation training.

Speaking during the District Executive Committee (DEC) project briefing in Chitipa, the District Commissioner for Chitipa District, Grace Chirwa, appreciated the role Karonga Diocese is playing in complementing government’s efforts in improving people’s livelihoods. She further urged the Diocese to consider more interventions that would empower unemployed youths. These, she said, if not well managed end up engaging in promiscuous behavior.

During the meeting, DEC members reviewed and technically appraised the project. They pointed out some areas which needed further consideration and possible amendment.

Addressing DEC members after the approval of the project, Development Desk Project Officer-Elijah Banda expressed a word of gratitude to the District Commissioner for tirelessly supporting Karonga Diocese’s development initiatives and DEC members for their technical input.

“I thank you all for the technical advice towards the perfection of the project. Be assured these will be taken into consideration. Since the Development Desk will also work together with relevant government sectors, then most of the concerns raised will be addressed in the actual implementation of the project.” He said.

This is a three-year project and it runs from October 2017 to September 2020 using a community approach.