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Red carding poverty one woman at a time

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KADEWERE—I am very happy with the initiative

Children, some as young as three years, play hide-and-seek while others create fun by throwing heaps of alluvial clay soils in the air, oblivious of what is going on in 51-year-old Femia Taila’s mind.

She wishes she could turn back the hand of time and be a child again.

“I mean, these are hard days,” Taila, from Traditional Authority Kadewere in Chiradzulu District, says, her eyes fixed on the children.

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“I wish I were like those children. Worries? They do not have any. They are new to the world,” she says.

In truth, a lot has been going on in her mind in the past 11 months, a situation made worse by the 25 percent devaluation of the Kwacha.

“When I heard that the Reserve Bank of Malawi had devalued the Kwacha, my heart sank. I feared for my small-scale business. I sell rice and beans and these are the goods that have kept me going all these years,” she says.

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However, Taila remembers that, even on the day news about devaluation was announced, the children of Kadewere still played and made fun out of the dust.

For Taila, there is no time for play— more so because profits raked from rice and beans sales have been dwindling.

Fortunately, the Government of Malawi has, through the Ministry of Gender, Community Development and Social Welfare, been reaching out to vulnerable households through the social cash transfer programme.

Minister responsible, Patricia Kaliati, says the programme has enabled people who would, otherwise, have floundered on the journey to 2063, when Malawi is billed to undergo massive transformation, stand on their feet again.

“This kind of support goes a long way in helping people sustain their lives. Most importantly, it gives them some disposable income, with which to invest in crop and animal production. We thank development partners and the President [Lazarus] for seeing to it that Malawians are benefitting from these initiatives,” Kaliati says.

However, people like Taila are regarded as well off and, therefore, not deserving of social cash transfer proceeds.

This is despite that, due to the fact that she cannot raise enough capital for her business, she cannot bring massive profits.

There is a silver lining in the horizon, though as, with support from the World Bank, the Government of Malawi is, through Comsip Cooperative Union, disbursing funds to women, who are getting K300,000 each.

The idea is to boost businesses and put those engaging in them on the path to sustainable economic development.

Just on Thursday last week, 167 women in Kadewere received the money.

Taila, as one of the recipients, was elated.

“I believe that, with this K300,000, I will be able to expand my business and generate more profits. I am happy because, before being given the money, we were oriented by Comsip on how to establish and improve our businesses,’’ she said.

Pauline Chikwama, 27, from the same area, is a single mother of one who believes that the more money one puts into a business venture, the massive the profits.

“I have, therefore, been craving an opportunity like this. I plan to venture into poultry farming.

“As you know, business requires sound capital. Fortunately, I was trained in how to do business and, as such, I am sure that I will run the business well,” she said.

Senior Chief Kadewere, who says he finds no happiness when his subjects are reeling under socio-economic problems, lauds the government and its partners for devising means of bailing people out of poverty.

“All I want is for people I serve to sustain their lives. I just want their lives to undergo transformation so that, by developing the country one person at a time, Malawi can attain development goals set in its many blueprints, notably the Malawi 2063 vision.

“I am especially happy that the money has gone to women of this area. Women are at the heart of the community economy; as such, when they get money, that money circulates in the area and the benefits are far-reaching. I hope the K300,000 the women have received will uplift their livelihoods,” he points out.

“These women were lacking sound capital. As such, it is commendable that the government has deemed it fit to come to their rescue,” Kadewere added.

Comsip Development Communication Officer Mercy Chaluma said the organisation is running the $33 million Government of Malawi, named Social Support for Resilient Livelihood Project, in a bid to promote emancipation.

The initiative will run for five years.

“As for Traditional Authority Kadewere’s area, groups were formed way back. It is not just Chiradzulu District that is benefitting from the initiative; other districts that qualified for the graduation pilot component of the initiative are also benefitting from it. In fact, it is districts that graduated from the pilot component of the initiative that are benefitting from it.

“When allocating the K300,000 to individuals, we choose those that showed interest in businesses. The idea is that the money should help in bailing them out of poverty. We are giving them funds they can inject in their business of choice,” she said.

“In the first phase of the project, we are giving funds to 3,000 people. In the graduation pilot component of the whole project, we are targeting 10,400 people out of the overall target, which is 470,000 people,” Chaluma adds.

That way, poverty will booted out one woman at a time until it has no fertile ground for flourishing.

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