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Courting success through incubator pass on scheme

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The creation of problem-busting ideas and, by extension, solutions to African problems, has sometimes been considered the ‘privilege’ of the so-called development partners.
Consequently, home-grown non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have, for the most part, reduced their otherwise powerful role to transmission belts used for promoting ideas developed in the so-called developed world for implementation in Africa.
This way, the Esau Syndrome, which is described as the tendency of African leaders to sell Africa’s worth for the sake of short-term gains— an idea that is quashed by Ugandan journalist and editor, David Ssepuuya, in his book Africa’s Industrialisation & Prosperity: From Esau Syndrome to Structural Adjustment Strategy— has been perpetuated by both NGOs and State actors.
Well, Dalitso Chiwayula— a 2017 Mandela Washington Fellow, Kansas State University, United States of America— might have thought deeply about this as he landed on the tarred runway of Kamuzu International Airport in Lilongwe on a bright day back in 2007.
He might, as well, have thought about doing something about the precarious situation of some people in Thyolo District without necessarily acting as a transmission belt of ideas generated in the so-called developed world.
To do that, he had to ask the people of Traditional Authority (T/A) Changata in Thyolo about their problems and how they could, using local interventions, solve them.
To his surprise, the people’s hopes were pinned on something as fragile as a chicken. Yes, with a back that is not strong enough to pull a cart— let us call it ‘chicken-cart— the people seem to have arrived at the conclusion that chickens have stronger bones, when it comes to pulling people out of poverty, than ox.
But, then, T/A Changata has been in the world long enough to know that the chickens in the area have been there for ages, and have failed to pull the people out of the trench of povertyfor the most part of post-independent Malawi.
If anything, therefore, there had to be a new solution, one not linked to chickens, but something linked to technology.
That, exactly, is how, like a new-born, the project ‘Fighting HIV/Aids Through Poultry Production Using Local Incubator Technology’ came to be.
It is, in more ways than one, the fruit of cooperation between a local man who crossed the seas and those who remained behind in Thyolo District; an idea conceived high up in the skies and sharpened by locals who are incubating it after welcoming it with open arms because it was their own idea.
“We did not hesitate to join the cause because we realised that, apart from taking part in drawing a roadmap on how we could move out of poverty, we also realised that chickens are real, HIV is real, and Aids is real. We are committed to dealing with real issues so that our lives can improve,” says Elube Nazombe, one of Changata’s subjects.
Nazombe cites factors fuelling the spread of HIV and Aids in the district.
“There are different reasons why a human being is infected or affected by HIV and Aids, one of them being poverty— which has resulted in many women and girls getting infected with HIV. Millions more have been affected. We, the subjects of Changata, are no exception,” Nazombe says.
This is where Chipembere Community Development Organisation (CCDO) comes in. This, too, is the point Chiwayula, CCDO’s Executive Director, comes in.
“We decided to intervene with an initiative aimed at strengthening the household economy of 300 women and 200 youths while preventing HIV infection through our ‘Incubator Machines Pass On Loan Grant’ in T/A Changata. The project, which has been made possible through the American Embassy Grant designed for Malawian participants in the 2017 Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, has enabled us to mobilise youths and women into groups of 25 members each as one way of ensuring sustainability of project activities,” Chiwayula says.
As part of the project, solar energy incubator machines have been provided to the first two groups whose representatives were trained in basic poultry management, installation and management of incubator machines, management of hatchery and basic solar technology for the running of incubator machines, thanks to the expertise of Halice Trading, a firm that offers consultancy services in poultry production, solar technology, incubator technology, among others.
Chiwayula says the project facilitates the distribution of locally produced incubators.
So far, the pass on loan grant has been extended to 300 women and 200 youths, ostensibly because they are at the battlefront when it comes to fighting the challenges of HIV and Aids in the community.
“The project is not charging any interest on this loan grant because it is there to ensure that the loan revolves among more beneficiaries so that there is a spirit of ownership among the communities themselves. So, once the cost of the incubator is met, the loan grantee automatically passes on to another beneficially at zero interest rate with the help of community loan committee members. It is expected that, within six months, the groups would be able to realise a surplus,” Chiwayula says.
Surely, the initiative is not just about community members taking more than they give. As one way of promoting the spirit of community service, the beneficiaries are taking part in the mobilisation of fellow community members, who are going for HIV tests in droves.
“Women and youths have been tasked with the responsibility of mobilising 5,000 community members to go for HIV tests and well as anti-retroviral therapy. They will have provided care and support services by October 2018.
“They also work hand in hand with health personnel in the area in raising awareness, counselling others, conducting door to door visits and holding discussions, at both household and individual levels, with family members. In fact, the income realised from incubator pass on loan grant activities is used to support their families and motivates them to work extra hard to benefit the entire community,” Chiwayula says.
It is efforts like these, especially the involvement of community members in mobilising others to adopt health-seeking behaviour, that have prompted Group Village Headman Nkalozwa under Changata to ask community members to take advantage of the initiative.
“Surely, this is an opportunity for beneficiaries to show their capacity and commitment on the ground so that they should not miss future opportunities,” Nkalozwa says.
Health Minister Atupele Muluzi touts initiatives such as these as the panacea for poor health-induced poverty and hopes that, with donors such as the Global Fund continuing to channel resources meant for HIV and Aids, tuberculosis and malaria fight to Malawi, the future can only be bright.
What remains to be seen is whether the relief sought in the incubators is temporally or permanent.

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