Katengeza village in Lilongwe is one of the poorest villages in the Malili constituency chosen to benefit from Arise and Shine International (ASI) and Progressio ICS. The community are eager to work with Progressio and ASI and really appreciate our presence.
Since January when Progressio ICS volunteers first teamed up with ASI in Katengeza, maize, beans and moringa trees have been planted and all crops are being well taken care of.
Mandalu Banwell, a community member, expressed her gratitude for the hard work that the charities have put in to improving their economic situation as they struggled to afford even basic necessities before we arrived.
Now that the rainy season is coming; a prime time for cultivation of crops, conservation agriculture is a focus of our work in the village of Katengeza. The people of these rural villages depend hugely on agriculture to feed themselves, their livestock and to make money. Teaching the community how to farm in a sustainable way will therefore have a massive impact on the health and quality of life of these communities. Having been trained on the principles and techniques of conservation agriculture by ASI, we set to work with organising an awareness campaign to spread the word.
A week before the proposed campaign in Katengeza, we visited to check on the progress that had been made with completing targets set for them. We were very impressed by the house that they had created for their goats which had appeared in just a week. We were also shown to the demonstration plots and could see that the farmers had been busy preparing the fields. After this evaluation we were confident that the awareness campaign the following week would be a success.
On the 31st October we arrived in Katengeza to discover the community members hard at work preparing space for the campaign. They were eager to begin and whilst the Progressio ICS volunteers were preparing posters and materials for the day, everyone was in high spirits with rehearsals for the songs and dances going on around us. It was good to see the high number of people that had turned out for the event and we were very encouraged to discover that there were chiefs and members of other villages present as well. This demonstrated to us that the messages we are trying to convey to the people of Katengeza are being well received and that other villages can see the progress being made and wish to imitate it themselves.
The awareness campaign consisted of songs, dance, poems and pieces of drama which the villagers had prepared on the themes of conservation agriculture. We found the drama pieces particularly engaging as the actors linked conservation agriculture with HIV/AIDS and family planning advice, showing the overall benefits of the projects. The congregation was taken to the areas of the village which have benefited from the work of ICS; the moringa wood, the demonstration plots, the house for the goats and the shallow wells. At each location the chief spoke about the benefits and changes that they have seen, encouraging the people from the other villages to have a look. The campaign ended with refreshments and dancing and the day seemed incredibly successful. We look forward to continuing our work with Katengeza and hope that when we repeat the awareness campaign in Philazi, our second model village, we have the same response and reception from the villagers.
Written by: Niamh Caines, Sophie Claessens and William Tiyanjane. Progressio ICS volunteers working with Arise and Shine International (ASI)