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Cement-malata subsidy relieves the rural poor

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Tears of joy ran down the cheeks of a 50-year-old widow, who has never dreamed of owning an iron sheet roofed house, but thanks to the Decent Housing and Affordable Subsidy Programme (Dhasp) popularly known as cement and malata subsidy.

Rodina Kita from Katutula Village, Chief Mwabulambya in Chitipa District was married to a Malawi Defence Force (MDF) soldier and they lived happily at Cobbe Barracks in Zomba until a dark cloud engulfed her in 1988 when her husband died, leaving her with six children.

Kita says when they returned to their village in Chitipa, they had no proper house except for a one small mud and grass thatched house which was given to them by family members to shelter her and her children.

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“The house did not even have ventilation. We were living like animals. It was a nightmare,” she explains.

Kita received from the government 30 bags of cement of 50 kilogrammes each, 30 iron sheets, door frames, window panels and nails, worth K500,000 of which she would be expected to repay K250,000 in five years.

She vowed to repay the loan using proceeds from her farming ventures under which she produces and sells maize, groundnuts, soya beans and sun flower. She also has some livestock.

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Chitipa Housing Coordinator, Lino Nyirenda says since Kita had already shown commitment by burning bricks on her own, it was easy for the committee to construct a house of her choice.

“She now has a three-bed room house with a sitting room and a store room. And this was built by local artisans from the community who have already completed construction works and are just waiting for door frames,” he said.

He expects the house to be ready for occupation by end January 2016.

Nyirenda said the programme constructs different sizes of houses depending on specific needs.

“They are provided with materials in line with their various needs. Those looking for small houses are provided with fewer materials,” he explained.

Chitipa District Commissioner, Grace Chirwa, said the council has so far completed 90 percent of the work under the programme.

“There are very few things remaining like roofing nails, bolts and some frames. We are expecting these deliveries to be made soon in order for us to reach our January target,” she said.

Chirwa further said the district has constructed houses for 375 families under the programme and it will construct an additional 25 houses this year.

In Karonga, 400 housing units have been constructed in addition to 25 houses for the vulnerable which are yet to be constructed.

Karonga DC Rosemary Moyo, however, urges suppliers to deliver finishing materials like nails, bolts and door frames which, she says, have delayed completion of the projects.

Ministry of Lands, Housing and Urban Development spokesperson, Charles Vintulla said the government has since sourced vehicles from other state agencies, including the MDF to deliver the remaining materials in all councils.

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