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INTEGRATED RURAL DEVELOPMENT PROJECT: ENHANCING SMALLHOLDER FARMERS’ INCOME THROUGH COLLECTIVE MARKETING

By Noel Chatepa

The improvement of smallholder farmers’ income is one of the goals of the Integrated Rural Development Project being carried out by CADECOM Karonga Diocese in Chitipa with funding from Misereor. To this end, a group marketing intervention is one of the interventions being carried out in which farmer clubs are encouraged to assemble their produce and sell it collectively.

Chitete Cooperative members in front of the constructed warehouse.

In line with this, the Chitete Producer and Marketing Cooperative Society Limited was formed by the union of six farmer clubs from the Adam 1 and Chawa Village Development Committees in Kameme, Chitipa, under the direction of CADECOM Karonga Diocese.


“We received training in seed multiplication in 2021 along with seeds such as maize, soya bean, and sunflower from CADECOM Karonga Diocese. In the same year, we also received orientations in finance, record keeping, cooperative management, and warehouse management” says Thomas Kanyika who is a committee member for Chitete Cooperative.

The warehouse at Sopelera Trading Center in Kameme.

Margaret Chizimbi, a member of the marketing committee for Chitete cooperative, echoes this by stating that “members from different farmer clubs in the Integrated Rural Development project were trained and assisted in setting up different sub-committees responsible for things like marketing, loans, financing, aggregation, and production.”


The cooperative started sourcing for capital to build a warehouse and in 2022 they opened a bank account and CADECOM Karonga Diocese provided 70 percent of the finance for the warehouse construction, with the cooperative contributing the remaining 30 percent in cash and kind.

The Chitete cooperative, which was founded in 2020 as a joint marketing group by the two Village Development Committees of Adam 1 and Chawa, has 144 members and trades in commodities such groundnuts, sunflowers, and soya bean.

INTEGRATED RURAL DEVELOPMENT PROJECT TRAINS 30 COMPOST MANURE PROMOTERS

By Noel Chatepa

A three day training of 30 compost manure promoters in agrimarketing of “Indore Organic fertilizer” is underway in Chitipa. The training is part of the interventions in the Integrated Rural Development Project being implemented by Catholic Development Commission in Malawi (CADECOM) Karonga Diocese with funding from Misereor and it involves farmers from Mwankumbwa, Chisankhwa and Kameme.

Agri-business trainings in progress.

The meeting also involved the reviewing of compost manure made by the promoters to check their progress and each compost promoter’s manure was analyzed based on the methods and materials used to make the manure. This was to assist in comparing different samples of manure brought in by the promoters.

CADECOM officer Veston Beza (Right) taking records.

The compost manure promoters are being trained in agricultural business and marketing skills by CADECOM Karonga Diocese Agri-business officer Kaitano Maison together with Integrated Rural Development project officers Veston Beza, Bridget Mshani and are being coordinated by Saloom Longwe.

“FROM VOCATIONAL TRAINING TO BUSINESS SUCCESS: DAVID KANTHONGA BENEFITS FROM THE INTEGRATED RURAL DEVELOPMENT PROJECT”

By Noel Chatepa

Kanthonga in his tailoring shop.

David Kanthonga, a young man from Chisankhwa, James Village in the area of T/A Mwaulambya is a shining example of the transformative power of vocational skills training. Through the Integrated Rural Development project being implemented in Chitipa district by Catholic Development Commission in Malawi (CADECOM) Karonga Diocese with funding from Misereor, David was able to undergo a six-month tailoring program, which has profoundly impacted his life.

Initially, David, like many other youths in his community, faced limited prospects for sustainable employment. However, the Integrated Rural Development project identified David as a promising candidate and enrolled him in a vocational skills training program.

Kanthonga working on a piece of cloth.

Upon completing his training, David was provided with a sewing machine by Father Litani from Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Chisankhwa, enabling him to start a small tailoring business. The proceeds from this venture have not only sustained his family but also allowed him to purchase a computer and printer/photocopier, diversifying his income streams.

David’s story is a testament to the effectiveness of the Integrated Rural Development project, which aims to improve the economic well-being of rural communities through sustainable agriculture, joint marketing, Assisted Natural Regeneration and small-scale income-generating activities like beekeeping, village savings and loans, and vocational skills development.

Kanthonga.

In David’s own words, “I am very thankful to CADECOM Karonga Diocese through the Integrated Rural Development Project as I was taught how to tailor uniforms, shirts and other types of clothes which has allowed me to sustain my family and purchase a computer and printer/photocopier which will diversify my income. I am very thankful.”

Kanthonga (Left) taking measurements of a customer.

David’s journey is an inspiring example of how targeted vocational training can empower individuals, unlock their potential, and transform their economic prospects. His story serves as a shining beacon, inspiring others to embrace the opportunities presented by such initiatives and strive for a brighter, more self-sufficient future.

The Rural Integrated Development project is being implemented by CADECOM Karonga Diocese in Chitipa with funding from Misereor.

EMPOWERING COMMUNITIES THROUGH ASSISTED NATURAL REGENERATION AND BEEKEEPING: THE STORY OF ROMAD MSHANI AND FAMILY

By Noel Chatepa

From Mwankumbwa EPA in the area of Traditional Authority Mwaulambya in the northernmost district of Chitipa, comes out the story of a project that is changing lives. The Integrated Rural Development project, being implemented by the Catholic Development Commission in Malawi (CADECOM) under the Karonga Diocese with funding from Misereor, is a beacon of hope for local communities.

Romad and his wife Wakisa holding their bottles of honey.

Romad Mshani and his wife, both dedicated farmers and parents to four children, are part of the Integrated Rural Development project which promotes Assisted Natural Regeneration (ANR) as one of its components. This innovative approach encourages communities to restore degraded lands by nurturing existing vegetation. Instead of planting new trees, villagers protect and nurture natural mini forests, allowing them to regenerate naturally.

Romad Mshani standing next to one of his beehives.

Romad’s family became enthusiastic participants in this endeavor and as part of ANR, the Mshani family received artificial beehives from CADECOM. These beehives not only supported pollination and biodiversity but also provided a sustainable source of income. Romad and his wife, Wakisa, tended to the hives with care, watching as bees transformed nectar into liquid gold—honey.

Mshani (Right) selling honey to a customer.

The Mshani family’s journey took an exciting turn when they harvested their first batch of honey as it opened doors to economic independence and the proceeds flowed back into their household, providing funds for essential needs.

With the additional income, the Mshani family diversified their livelihoods, and they invested in small-scale goat farming and now own several goats.

Mshani poses with his goats from honey sales proceeds.

“I am very grateful to CADECOM under the Karonga Diocese for training me in ANR as I would have just been cutting down trees not knowing that through preserving the environment, I can also find a source of income” he says.

The Integrated Rural Develpment Project is being implemented with support from Misereor and it aims to improve and sustain food production among 480 households in Chitipa District. Further the project is implementing interventions to strengthen farmers joint marketing and train youths in vocation skills.

“STAKEHOLDERS TRAINED ON GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE CASES COURT PROCEEDINGS”

By Wantwa Mwakasungula – TFM

CCJP Karonga Diocese project coordinator Vincent Bwinga (Standing) during a training session,

The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP), in collaboration with the Karonga Magistrate Court, has convened community stakeholders such as Chiefs, Mother groups, Community Victim Support Units, Zone Implementation Committees and Child Protection Workers to educate them on the proceedings of gender-based violence cases in court and to familiarize them with the operations of the Timazge Nkhaza project.

Vincent Bwinga, the project coordinator for CCJP Karonga Diocese, stated that the objective of this training is to raise awareness of community structures on court proceedings and gender related laws.

Trainings in progress.

Bwinga further said that a lack of accurate information on how the courts work often leads individuals to struggle in articulating their concerns in court as a result impeding their access to assistance or legal recourse.

However, the introduction of court circuits through the Timazge Nkhaza project will empower stakeholders to significantly contribute to aiding individuals facing various challenges in their respective areas.

During the training session, Magistrate Court Clerk Alick Mbughi emphasized the importance of understanding the by-laws for stakeholders to effectively support individuals in their communities dealing with gender-based violence cases.

In response, Senior GVH of Chisi, Bern ford Msongole, expressed appreciation for the training and highlighted that as stakeholders, they will disseminate knowledge to help reduce instances of gender-based violence.

“It is imperative for us to have a comprehensive reference guide to assist us in addressing such cases within our communities,” he said.

CCJP Is implementing the Timazge Nkhaza project in three Traditional Authorities (T/A) of Mwakaboko, Kilupura and Kyungu with funding from the NCA-DCA Joint Country program.

“LESSONS LEARNED AND NEXT STEPS: COMMUNITY TRANSFORMATION PROGRAM REVIEW MEETING”

By Noel Chatepa.

The Community Transformation Program Team

A meeting is underway at St. Kizito Conference Center in Chitipa where the Community Transformation program team is gathered for a review meeting of the project. The team is sharing progress updates, discussions and planning for the next phase of the program.

The Community Transformation Program is being implemented in the three districts of Chitipa, Karonga and Rumphi with funding from Cross Catholic Outreach.

#CommunityTransformation #ProgramReview

KARONGA DIOCESE CADECOM DISTRIBUTES FARM INPUTS FOR WINTER CROPPING TO FARMERS

By Noel Chatepa

Karonga Diocese CADECOM has distributed farm inputs for winter cropping to 500 farmers in the area of Traditional Authority Wasambo in Karonga from 6th to 7th June 2024.

The event which was held at Vinthukutu EPA was graced by the Vicar General for Karonga Diocese Monsignor Lorent Dziko and was attended by representatives from government and T/A Wasambo.

Monsignor Dziko (6th from Left) with some of the farmers

“This distribution exercise is very important as this area does not receive adequate rainfall and in 2023, this area also faced droughts so it is very beneficial to both the community and the diocese. We considered that as they have a water source close by hence the distribution of the seeds so that they may irrigate the crops to be able to harvest at least something”, Monsignor Dziko said.

Monsignor Dziko (L) handing over maize seed to some of the beneficiaries.

Monsignor Dziko also added that this will reduce instances of bad behaviour in the communities such as theft and excessive drinking instead the people will be focused on working on their fields.

Speaking on behalf of T/A Wasambo, GVH Jonas Mwanyanja said, “our minds have been opened and with these farm inputs we will be able to do winter cropping and I encourage my community to refrain from selling the farm inputs and to use them for their intended purpose”.

Monsignor Dziko (L) handing over maize seed to some of the beneficiaries.

Anne Silika Mbewe, one of the farmers set to benefit from the project said that she is very grateful as with the recent weather patterns, it has been hard for them to harvest during the normal farming season but with the farm inputs they have received and guidance from CADECOM field officers, she expects to have a good harvest from the winter cropping.

Monsignor Dziko (L) handing over a bag of fertilizer to GVH Jonas Mwanyanja.

Karonga Diocese CADECOM is implementing the Climate Just Communities project in the area of T/A Wasambo with assistance from DAI.

COMMUNITIES URGED TO REPORT GENDER BASED VIOLENCE THROUGH SUGGESTION BOXES

By Lusungu Mzembe – TFM

The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) under Karonga Diocese through the Timazge Nkhaza Project has urged community members of Karonga district to report gender-based violence issues through the suggestion boxes that have been placed at various institutions in the district.

In an interview with Vincent Bwinga the project coordinator, he said that a lot of people fail to report directly to the authorities when they encounter gender-based violence in their communities as they are afraid of risking their lives, as such the organization has distributed suggestion boxes so that people should express their issues without any hindrances.

“We saw that many people in various communities are at risk and sometimes discriminated when they have reported issues of violence to the authorities as such, we believe that through these suggestion boxes a lot of them will report the abuse they face hence on the other hand we are trying to reduce cases of gender-based violence in the district,” Bwinga said.

Bwinga said the suggestion box will also help them to come up with a proper solution in implementing their project as they will be able to identify gender-based issues that are affecting people in the district.

Commenting on the matter the zone coordinator at Chisi area Geoffery Kawonga commended CCJP for the development saying that it will help a lot of people in the area to report cases of Gender Based Violence as they will be able to express themselves without being known to the community.

“We are very thankful for the development in our area as it will help minor groups to report when they encounter gender-based violence without the fear of being known and discriminated and we will urge community leaders, religious leaders, representatives from mother groups, community policing units, teachers and male champions to raise awareness about the use of these suggestion boxes”, Kawonga said.

CCJP Is implementing the Timazge Nkhaza project in three Traditional Authorities (T/A) of Mwakaboko, Kilupura and Kyungu with funding from the NCA-DCA Joint Country program.

COMMUNITY SENSITIZATION CAMPAIGNS BY CCJP: A Stand Against Violence

By Noel Chatepa

In a world where ancient beliefs intersect with modern human rights, the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) Karonga Diocese has taken a bold step to address one of the most pressing issues which is violence against individuals accused of witchcraft. In line with this, CCJP Karonga Diocese conducted a community awareness meeting on 17th May 2024 at Ikwawo primary School in the area of Group Village Head Mwenengorongo.

CCJP Karonga Diocese’s Moses Mwakisalu addressing the community gathered at Ikwawo Primary School.

Speaking during the meeting at Ikwawo,CCJP officer Moses Mwakisalu stated that accusations of witchcraft, often targeting the most vulnerable members of society can lead to dire consequences. He also added that His Lordship Bishop Martin Mtumbuka is against all acts of violence against the elderly who usually are women hence the campaign and that Bishop considers such acts of violence as signs of illiteracy and effects of poverty. “We are setting a bad example for the coming generations, and it is very important that we stop these acts now in order to prevent them from happening to us when we get old” said Mwakisalu.

Karonga District Peace and Unity Committee vice-secretary Jane Mbowe.

The meeting was attended by different stakeholders such as GVH mwenengorongo, chiefs from the area, Songwe Police, Area Development Committee Members and a representative from the District Peace and Unity Committee. In a separate interview, Jane Mbowe who is the Vice Secretary for the District Peace and Unity Committee urged the community to actively participate in the peace building activities and advised the community against taking the law into their own hands when a person has been accused of practising witchcraft, rather they should report to the relevant authorities.

CCJP’s campaign focuses on educating communities about the dangers of such accusations and the importance of respecting human rights. Through the community meetings, and collaboration with local leaders, CCJP aims to dismantle the myths surrounding witchcraft and promote peace and justice. The campaign is an initiative by the Karonga Diocese CCJP with the aim of reducing acts of violence perpetrated against persons accused of witchcraft.

“COMMUNITY BYLAWS: ASSISTING VILLAGE DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEES IN THE FIGHT AGAINST CHILD TRAFFICKING”

By Noel Chatepa

“We were surprised to notice that our 16 year old daughter CR (not her real name) was not present in our household” says BR (not real name). We then started searching for her in our community that’s when we found out that she had left for Tanzania. CR’s story is one of many in the bordering districts of Malawi and Tanzania where young girls and boys are trafficked to Tanzania to work in households, shops and restaurants among others.

CR says, “I travelled to Tanzania in the beginning of 2024 after being enticed by an individual from our community that I would find a good job and would make a lot of money and I left without informing my parents. In Tunduma (Tanzania), I started work as a house-help and was not alone in the compound, there were two other underage girls with whom I used to work with”.

BR says that after finding out that she had left for Tanzania, they decided to alert the Village Development Committee (VDC) and Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) volunteer ES(not real name) who then informed CCJP officer Moses Mwakisalu.

“As a VDC, we have a set of bylaws to curb child trafficking, child labour, early marriages and school dropout as were were previously encountering such problems and we were trained by CCJP on minute documentation and setting of bylaws at community level. After the training we started to sensitize the community on the bylaws we had set for the community and it was then that BR reported to us that his child CR had been trafficked to Tunduma for work”, says ES who is a CCJP volunteer.

“CCJP Officer Mwakisalu then guided us on the steps we were supposed to take and we got the phone number of the person who had taken her to Tunduma and requested that she be sent back to Malawi” says BR. He however went on to state that even though the girls are trafficked to Tanzania with the idea that they will be working in households and shops, there are rumors that a lot more than the eye sees goes on and the girls are forced to engage in promiscuous activities when they arrive in Tanzania.

CCJP officer Mwakisalu states that the problem of child trafficking is a big issue along the borderline as most of the children that are trafficked are underage and are deceived with opportunities of making a lot of money across the border. “We are making progress as the community is now following the bylaws that are set and parents are able to report when a child is suspected of being trafficked however there is need for more sensitization along the borderline on issues of child trafficking”, says Mwakisalu.