Improving community skills in Malawi

Improving community skills in Malawi

Chinkwiri, a community based organisation in Malawi, is helping improve the lives of local people with the help of Concern.

Chinkwiri is a community-based organisation (CBO) based in the Traditional Authority of Chakhaza in the Dowa district of central Malawi. As a result of the high rate of HIV and AIDS in Dowa (11%), Chinkwiri CBO was established in 2004 to work with affected families and more specifically children who had been orphaned as a result of the virus. There are at least 500 orphans that the organisation supports. In recent years, Chinkwiri has become increasingly involved in activities to promote the rights of children and women in their local areas. Membership of the organisation has increased to 200 people, who come from 10 different villages within the area.

Concern, along with UNICEF and the National AIDS Commission (NAC), has been providing financial support and helping Chinkwiri CBO build its capacity to help local communities. 

Education and food

In late 2006, Concern provided funding for Chinkwiri CBO. This money was used to educate the community about the devastating effects of HIV and AIDS through drama, stories and poetry and to make children aware of their basic rights. Chinkwiri also established eight communal kitchen gardens to supplement the food available in the local community. By establishing these gardens it became easier for the most vulnerable in the community (children, pregnant women, and those living with HIV and AIDS) to access a variety of nutritious foods, increasing their overall health.

Assessing and improving

Although the funding had been put to good use, during an assessment with Chinkwiri, it became clear that there were several areas within the organisation that could be improved. This included building a better understanding of human rights and of developing proposals for projects.

In 2007, Concern addressed these issues by conducting capacity building training, including modules on proposal development, group dynamics and participatory extension methods. Like any of Concern’s other partners, CBO members were also given training on human and child rights, governance and the decentralisation policy.

Using new skills

Chinkwiri CBO put this new found knowledge into practice and as a result other organisations, such as Orphan Support Africa (OSA), became interested in funding and supporting its work in Dowa District.

Chinkwiri CBO was one of 11 community-based organisations selected to receive funding from OSA, and as a result it has been funded to the tune of MWK two million to build and equip a resource centre and offices. Using labour skills available within the 200-strong membership of Chinkwiri, the building was completed quickly, and now comprises of offices, a sewing training room, a store room, a meeting and conference room, a HIV testing room and community-based child care centre.

Passing-over piglets

Concern has also recently provided financial assistance to Chinkwiri to help develop a pig breeding project. Chinkwiri volunteers manage the starter breeding stock in three centralised breeding sites. The resulting piglets are given to the poorest and most vulnerable people in the community. It is estimated that 108 poor and vulnerable community members will benefit from the starter stock by the end of 2008.

The pig breeding scheme is a pass-over project, which means that Chinkwiri will manage the stock and give a female piglet to specific people who in turn will be required to pay back one female piglet by giving one to another individual. The male piglets remain with Chinkwiri, or individuals, for sell to raise funds to manage the female stocks.

Future developments

As a result of training provided by Concern, Chinkwiri can now develop new ways of helping communities in Malawi, and is in a much improved position to gain funding from other donor organisations. To build on this success, Concern continues to provide training to the management of Chinkwiri and to village committee members. It is hoped that Chinkwiri CBO will continue to grow and make a significant impact on the harsh reality of rural poverty in Malawi, and also encourage other like-minded communities to set up their own organisations.

Add new comment