Jailosi Phatama was born in Zomba about 57 years ago. It was, however, in Machinga District where he settled and has made the most of his life.
He settled in Chibwana Village, under Senior Chief Kawinga, where he married Chelayeje Matwaya, now 52.
A few years ago, his miserable life took a better turn after Catholic Development Commission (Cadecom) granted him two goats under its Resource Rights and Use (RRU) Project.
The goats have since multiplied to 17, which sustains his hope of a brighter future.
“It is not just about selling the goats and earning something for household needs; the goats are also a source of organic manure which we use in our crop gardens,” Phatama says.
Matwaya chips in by stating that the yield from their crop fields has almost increased fivefold in recent years due to the manure.
“We are now harvesting an average of four teen 50-kilogramme (kg) bags of maize instead of the usual three bags from the same piece of land,” she says.
Alice Lisimba—whose title in project parlance is lead farmer— says the 71 farmers that she aids no longer lack food in their homes.
“Out of the 71 farmers, 31 have received goats in Chibwana Village. Essentially, I help farmers with taking care of crops, livestock and forests.
“If the farmers don’t have food, they can sell an animal and buy the food,” Lisimba says, adding that she sees a bright future in the initiative and hopes for its continuity.
In another village, Bwanaheri, where the project is also being implemented, locals are being stimulated to use stoves that consume less firewood and emit lesser amounts of smoke.
Grace Makwinja, 46, who was trained in how to make firewood- efficient stoves, says her family is saving trees with the cooking facility.
“Cadecom taught us how to make stoves. It is very efficient. We can cook nsima and other foods using only three pieces of firewood,” Makwinja explains.
Florence Valakula, Cadecom member from Makwinja’s village, says the initiative has helped community members preserve natural resources.
Essentially, the project aims at restoring forest cover in the targeted areas.
“We are managing trees in very efficient ways. No one is allowed to fell them in the forest. Those found flouting bylaws are penalised,” says Nixon Kaunda, lead carer of a forest in Mdala Village, Machinga.
Kaunda insists that villagers are resolute about their conservation drive and that they are ready to go after whoever tries to frustrate them.
“We are determined to have more trees in our forest. This is in our action plan. We already have species such as acacias,” Kaunda says.
He also hails the support from Cadecom, which extends to areas such as irrigation taking place in the area of Traditional Authority Nkula in Machinga.
Group Village Head Mwamadi from the area says the project initially started in 2018 with 35 farmers but the number has gradually risen to 115.
“We started with 10 hectares. Now we have 30 hectares where we grow maize and beans. On my part, I expect to harvest 13 50kg bags of maize from my irrigated plot,” Mwamadi says.
The flowing water from a fish pond is what these farmers use for irrigating their crops. From the ponds, they expect to harvest fish worth up to K2 million.
With support from Trócaire— the official overseas development agency of the Catholic Church in Ireland—Cadecom is implementing the RRU project in Chikwawa, Dedza and Machinga districts. Close to 1,000 of the targeted households have received goats.
The organisation’s assistant programmes coordinator Aaron Kandiwo says the goal of the project is to achieve food security status in targeted households.
“Additionally, households must withstand the shocks of climate change with support from those involved in the project,” Kandiwo says, adding that the project also seeks to contribute to an enabling policy environment to support the implementation of community-led climate change adaptation actions.
He also says Cadecom is satisfied with the progress of the project.
In Chikwawa, Cadecom is working with Circle for Integrated Community Development (Cicod) in implementing the project through which one of the beneficiaries, Henry Katandika, is practising agriculture in relation to environmental conservation principles.
Katandika says the approach has significantly improved his household’s crop yield, such that some 14 other farmers are following in his footsteps.
Cicod also promotes irrigation and livestock rearing, among other interventions.
The organisation’s community development facilitator Maria Jingini says their work is to coordinate Disaster Risk Management Policy advocacy activities.
“Since we work with other players, we collaborate to ensure that issues of disasters are being well handled. So far, the impact is that communities are aware of how to withstand climate change shocks,” Jingini says.