Periods; Let’s talk about it!

Menstruation is the most dreaded time for adolescent girls and women in poor communities such as those in Mbando village, Machinga District, Malawi, where Abundance works. Why is such a natural health cycle, so difficult for them? The girls describe it as a time of anxiety and worry.

“When I get periods, I use pieces of cloth and am worried that it will fall off when I walk. That would be so shameful! So I don’t go to school those days. Also, it is difficult to sit on the floor while having periods, as our school does not have desks and chairs and we sit on the classroom floor.”

-A girl in Chirimba Secondary school, Mbando village.

Our rapid assessment in the village revealed that lack of access to and inability to afford proper sanitary napkins, caused the girls to resort to poor menstrual hygiene practises. Only three out of 53 girls surveyed at Mbando village have ever used proper sanitary pads. Lead by Abundance Director Ruth Mumba and her team, a one day training workshop (22 July 2017) was held at Mbando village on production of reusable sanitary napkins. The training was in response to a request from mothers in the village, who were concerned about young girls’ menstrual hygiene and related impacts.

Abundance Menstrual Hygiene Training

Grace Moyo began the training by first removing the “social stigma” on menstruation. “It is healthy to menstruate and you should not be ashamed of it. If you are a girl, you will menstruate”, she told the girls. She reiterated that being teased by their peers should not let them down, in fact, menstruation should be viewed as a sign that they are fit. Reusable sanitary napkins are made from used cloth and shaped like proper sanitary pads, but have an addition of buttons on the sides to secure them. Thus the worry that the cloth may fall off is no longer there and this gives confidence to the girls. Furthermore, the pads are something the girls can make on their own with a little training. They can be washed and reused, thus being an inexpensive and sustainable solution.

In the large classroom of Mbando village’s Community Based Child Care Centre, girls grouped themselves into groups of 6 and began making the pads with help from Ruth Mumba and Grace Moyo. Used cloth was sourced by Ruth from the local markets and sewing kits were purchased which was distributed to each group. Every girl got a small sewing pack which she could take home with her and continue making pads at her home. Care was taken to include aspects of washing pads with soap and drying them thoroughly before use, in the training.

Present at the workshop was the “Mothers Support Group”, which is a volunteer group of women in Mbando village who support women and children and help bring back children who drop out of school. They welcomed the training as a means to reduce girls’ absenteeism in schools. But there were also a pleasantly surprising cascading effect from the training. The Chairlady of the group said, “Because of this workshop, I believe that not only will the girls help themselves, go to school during periods, but, they can also use the skills to make pads and sell them for an income.” The possibility of income generation movement from this workshop was a positive spill-over that Abundance’s training did not expect, but happily welcomed.

Making reusable sanitary pads is not just a menstrual hygiene project, it has multiple benefits of improving confidence in girls, reducing absenteeism of girls in school and possible income generation venture. This is one small way Abundance is trying to help communities in Malawi. Let us break the silence about menstruation and promote dignity for girls!

Written by Deepa Pullanikkatil (PhD)

Founder & President of Abundance.

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Art House Africa

Art House Africa is an artistic initiative by SFA partner Elson Kambalu based in  Lilongwe, Malawi. It was established in 2005 with the purposes of serving as a hub for artists. The organization also works as an employment bureau for artists. The organization was founded after realizing that there is no formal structure of information channels among artists in Malawi.

Today, the company act as a resource centre where all artists plying their trade in Malawi visit to obtain different kinds of information related to their work. Some of the services provided by the organization include: organising art exhibitions, cultural events, advertising and promotion using drama, dance and music, interior and exterior designing and events management.

The organization contributes to the development of art in the country by increasing interaction between artists and their clients.

 Read more about Art House Africa here: https://elsonkambalu.wordpress.com/tag/art-house-africa/

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In Partnership


Abundance: The “Giving and Training” Event

One the 24th May 2017 Abundance held a 'Giving and Training' event at Mbando Village, Machinga, Malawi. This was an event to showcase the skills acquired through the recent training programmes ran by Abundance. Attending and participating in the event alongside Abundance included the Wonderful Youth Group, Mothers’ Support Group, Home-based care, and Gogo Group, and the following guests: Representing the ward councilor: Mr Erik Kazithe, Senior Group Village Head Mbando and other Development Committee members and village heads. 

The Abundance team received a very warm welcome as songs were sung as women danced around as the materials were being offloaded from the vehicle. An opening prayer was made, followed by a poem by a member of Wonderful Youth Group. The poem highlighted some problems the youth are facing. The poem also hinted at massive deforestation that is happening in the nearby Chikala Mountain.

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Abundance

Sustainable Futures in Africa is delighted to partner with Abundance, a non-profit organization working towards creating better lives for humans and caring for nature. Abundance, an organisation based in Malawi and founded by SFA Partner Deepa Pullanikkatil, has collaborated with the research team currently conducting the research trials in Malawi.
 Abundance started in Malawi in 2016 and has a team of advisors and board members resident in Malawi, UK, Canada, Qatar, UAE, Swaziland and Mauritius. Malawi was chosen as the first country to begin Abundance's work as it was the country that inspired the team to create the organization. It is one of the most needy countries in the world. Malawi is located in South-East Africa, with breath-taking natural beauty, but challenged by high levels of poverty and environmental degradation. Abundance has adopted Mbonda village in Machinga District in southern Malawi and undertook a needs assessment. Based on the assessment, Abundance is trying to meet the needs of communities. This includes support for health care through the provision of bicycle ambulance, promoting entrepreneurship by training youth and providing equipment for small businesses and making women's household burden less by providing fuel-efficient stoves. The Abundance team is working on an integrated approach with the intention of creating deep impact improving human well-being and allowing nature to thrive in this area. Through this targetted approach "Abundance village" model will be developed and lessons learned for sharing and upscaling the model countrywide.


​Vision:

A world of Abundance where there is plenty for humans and where nature is thriving. ​

​Mission:

Using an integrated development approach, we aim:
1. To create abundance for people through improvement in their well-being
2. To enhance resilience of natural resources through restoration and conservation

 "Our vision is a world of abundance... plenty of food ....opportunities to realize your full potential .... make a good living..... lush green forests.....thriving ecosystems....  plenty of habitats for wildlife....clean water ...clean air.....abundance everywhere! "
D.Pullanikkatil, Founder, Abundance


Abundance has ambition to cover all needy countries in the world starting with Malawi in 2016.  How wonderful it would be to spread abundance worldwide.

What we do

Abundance taken an integrated approach to achieve:

1. Improvement in human well-being in needy areas.
2. Enhancement of natural resources resilience in degraded areas.
Our values are :
Care, Share, Empower.
Check out Abundance online @ http://abundanceworldwide.weebly.com/

Women Environmental Programme

Women Environmental Programme

Sustainable Futures in Africa is delighted to partner with Women Environmental Programme (WEP). Women Environmental Programme (WEP) has partnered with SFA for the upcoming scoping research trial that will take place in Nigeria, Autumn 2017.

Below you can find information about the organisation, its mission and values.

History

Women Environmental Programme (WEP) was officially registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission in 2003. WEP is a non-governmental, non-profit, non-religious and voluntary organization whose vision is to see a society where the environmental, economic and political rights of women, children and youths are protected. Our mission is to empower women and youths to effectively address the environmental, economic and political issues that affect them. WEP has United Nations ECOSOC Special Status, Observer Status to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum and United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). With the Observer Status, WEP is also an organizing partner of the Women’s Major Group at the United Nations. WEP is also a member of the Global Environment Facility Civil Society Network and the regional focal point for West Africa.

Vision:

WEP envisions a society where the environmental, economic, social and political rights of women and youth are protected.

Mission:

WEP is committed to empowering women and youth to effectively address the environmental, economic and political issues that affect them.

Goal: 

The overall goal of Women Environmental Programme (WEP) is to promote a sustainable society while addressing issues of gender injustices relating to environmental, economic and social rights of women, children and youth.

Our Thematic Areas of Work:

The organization works in two thematic areas viz; Environment and Governance. WEP tackles issues relating to the environment such as Gender & Disaster Risk Reduction, Water, Sanitation & Hygiene and Natural Resource Management. Concerning Governance WEP strives for Women and Youth Empowerment, Budget Tracking and Monitoring alongside Peace and Conflict Transformation.

strategic objectives:

  • To sensitize and raise awareness of the general public on the impact of climate change particularly on gender and its mitigation and adaptation;
  • To stimulate the management of natural resources within the framework of national and international policies/convention for sustainable development in the environment;
  • To advocate for the rights of the rural and urban dwellers to land, housing settlement and basic social infrastructure within the framework of The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR);
  • To build capacity of the general public on the management of environmental conflicts, renewable energy, water and sanitation and organic pollutants; 
  • To empower women and youths in their civic rights and responsibilities, electoral processes and democratic governance in Nigeria

Our Strategies:

  • Advocacy
  • Capacity Building
  • Community Mobilization
  • Research and Development
  • Publications (books, newsletters)
  • Networking

Our Values:

  • Accountability and Transparency
  • Team Work, Hard work and Commitment to work
  • Honesty and Integrity
  • Gender Justice and Fairness
  • Trust and Confidentiality
  • Excellence and Cost Effective

PARTNERS AND NETWORKS:

WEP collaborates with agencies and community based organisations in the implementation of its activities and projects. Some of the activities implemented range from women political participation, promoting communities participation in slum development, environment protection, empowerment of youth and career development etc.

 

 Follow WEP on Facebook


Legal Wallet

Sustainable Futures in Africa is delighted to have our partner Stewart Paul as part of the team. Stewart Paul is the Managing Director of Legal Wallet:

www.legalwallet.org

Legal Wallet

About Legal Wallet

Legal Wallet founded by Alfred Andrew Kankuzi, is a non governmental organisation that connects ICT, Law, Education and Governance. Established in 2015 the organisation uses technology to combat some of the governance pressing challenges and legal Issues that affect Local Malawians. It is motivated and driven by a passion for enhancement and entrenchment of rule of law, citizen participation in the democratic process, respect for human rights and access to justice. It recognises that the ignorance of legal information has led to untold human rights abuses and victimization, observing that the well-being of a society and its subsequent socioeconomic progress cannot be separated from access to legal knowledge, further observing that there are is a knowledge gap between the people of Malawi and the laws that govern them and that access to legal information is essential to the social economic development of any nation.

Vision

Legal Wallet envisions an empowered society full of citizens with necessary tools to fully participate in all democratic processes.

Objectives Of The Organisation

The objects of the Registered Trustees of Legal Wallet shall be to fulfill the following outlined objects:

a) To bring the laws of Malawi closer to the general populace by conducting sensitization campaigns on electronic and print media, tour of rural and peri- urban areas, primary and secondary schools and drop in Legal Wallet Centers that will be established throughout Malawi.

b) To provide the legal aid services to indigent individuals and vulnerable groups such as women, children and prisoners among others and such services shall include but not limited to advisory and litigation services.

c) To protect citizens from unscrupulous individuals purporting act as legal aid service providers.

d) To partner with other local as well as international legal aid service providers in providing legal aid services to indigent and vulnerable individuals.

e) To partner with government and other non- governmental organizations in inculcating democratic governance, rule of law, an enhanced knowledge of the law and participation in development related activities.

f) To provide and promote a synergy between technology and governance issues in Malawi at the grassroots through development of software and mobile applications in the governance sector.

g) To conduct research and conferences on such topics as access to justice, impact of certain laws on different sectors of our society, human rights, rule of law, governance, development and other related issues.

Read more about Legal Wallet here: http://startupcompete.co/startup-idea/social-entrepreneurship-it/legal-wallet/56791

Follow Legal Wallet on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pg/Legalwallet/about/?ref=page_internal  


Telling Stories about Community Development; Why “Abundance” takes an integrated development approach

abundance-ngo-13_1

Written by Deepa Pullanikkatil

Post Doctoral Fellow, Rhodes University

Founder, Abundance

“A world of abundance, where there is plenty for humans and where nature is thriving”, is the vision of our non-profit organization in Malawi called “Abundance”. We have often been critiqued to be an organization that is focusing on too many things. “So, what is your area of focus?”, “Aren’t you doing too many different things, could you not narrow your projects down to one or two?” These are some of the questions people often ask us. To answer them, I tell stories; real life stories about people I have met while working in Malawi, one of the poorest countries in our world. These are the people who inspired Abundance, to take an integrated approach to development.

Supporting community participation is key

We were working on a climate change adaptation project in Lake Chilwa Basin in southern Malawi. It is a lake basin with 1.5 million people, predominantly subsistence rural communities with natural resource dependent livelihoods. We were confident in our thinking that we were providing ideal interventions for climate change adaptation to communities in the Lake Chilwa Basin. Feeling quite satisfied in the knowledge that we knew exactly what the communities needed to adapt, we brought forth interventions such as solar fish dryers, fuel efficient stoves and efficient fish smoking kilns; we promoted conservation agriculture, we provided trainings on climate change and with the communities we planted,  lots and lots of trees.  But when we went to the villages, we realised that women’s participation was not as good as it should be and that men had other challenges they wanted to share with us. Men came to us with their two main concerns, cholera and bilharzia (a debilitating disease caused by parasitic flatworms called schistosomes affecting the urinary tract) and asked us if we could do something about that. Women said that poor access to family planning and reproductive health services were the challenges they faced. The reasons for their reduced participation was now clear. How could men attend meetings when disease burden was so high? How could women participate actively when they had so many children or so many sick people to care for?

Why interconnectedness matters

Faced with the dilemma of how to address the health and family planning needs of communities through a climate change adaptation project with a specific livelihoods and environment focus, we realised that the way forward was to use an integrated approach. We could no longer take a sectoral approach, because communities did not live their lives in compartments. They lived integrated lives with needs that were interconnected. If we wanted to help them adapt, then we had to understand and work with interconnectedness. These often cuts across sectors and does not fall under a narrow themes of livelihoods or environment.  We had to open our eyes to these new perspectives.

In order to address the cholera and bilharzia challenges, we environmentalists were required to learn about disease and parasitology. We learnt that the challenge of bilharzia was partly created by well-intentioned irrigation coverage expansion. This was a method intended to help communities improve agriculture and adapt better. But in areas where bilharzia is endemic, increasing irrigation coverage allow snails which host the bilharzia causing parasite to spread to such waters, thus spreading bilharzia in to areas where previously it was not prevalent. In such a situation, environment, irrigation and health are intertwined. Without integrated planning there is risk of creating negative impacts through well-intentioned projects. We collaborated with health institutions and undertook research. We found prevalence of bilharzia was indeed high – up to 49% in some areas. The publication of the research was shocking to many and since then, a lot of attention shifted to the neglected disease of bilharzia, and help poured in.

It’s nice when people think you’re an expert

While doing research on bilharzia, as environmentalists, the first hurdle we had to overcome was that of our own ignorance, or lack of interest to work on a field that we knew nothing about. Mostly it was the fear of appearing ignorant, after all don’t we all like being the “experts”? We as environmentalists had to learn about health, about parasitology and diseases. Going beyond our comfort zone was a humbling experience and finally, in the end, as thousands of people got treated for Bilharzia, it was satisfying to see community needs met, exactly the way they should be met.

Starvation or prostitution: Families seeking solutions to problems caused by climate change

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