People in the area of Paramount Chief Chikulamayembe in Rumphi have commended the Catholic Development Commission (Cadecom) for implementing a five-year project called Australia Africa Community Engagement Scheme (AACES) which has increased food production and water sanitation and empowered them financially through village banking loans.
Under food security, 1,488 households have increased their yields from an average of two (50kg) bags of maize per acre to 10 (50kg) bags, groundnut production from an average of 20kg to 500kg per acre and soya production from 50kg to 700kg per acre.
The project has also put 300 households on irrigation farming on a seven hectare piece of land and another 1,145 households are practising vertical gardening which has increased vegetable production. Further, 845 households now own different types of livestock.
Cadecom National Programmes Coordinator Martin Mazinga said the project was aimed at improving livelihoods of the people through food security, water, hygiene and sanitation with emphasis on increasing access to services by the marginalised.
The project also tackled gender, HIV and Aids, child protection, village savings and loans, disaster preparedness and management and natural resource management.
Many villagers visited last week during a media tour to the catchment area thanked Cadecom for uplifting their lives.
“We are grateful to Cadecom for this borehole which is serving 70 households in this Kamphere Village. Before Cadecom brought the borehole, we used to drink from swamps together with animals,” said Suzana Nkhonjera chairperson for the borehole committee.
In Ntanthila Village, under-five children now go to an early childhood development centre. Each family contributes K200 and maize per term to keep the centre, running, according to Stelia Chavula.
“Cadecom brought this idea of early childhood education centres in this area. Our centre has 48 children. In the past, the children were just idle. But we are now preparing them for primary education,” said Chavula.
Through the establishment of 10 child protection committees, the community has saved six girls from early marriages, according to Chavula. She said the committee monitors the behaviour of teachers and girls in schools.
According to Mazinga, Cadecom drilled 14 new boreholes in the catchment area which compromises Chikulamayembe in Rumphi and Mtwalo in Mzimba.
“We have increased access to potable water for 1,350 households, 63 percent are accessing within a distance of 200 metres and within the recommended time of 30 minutes on average per trip,” said Mazinga, adding that cases of diarrhea had reduced from six to almost zero per village per year.
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