The Livingstonia Synod AIDS Program (LISAP) of the Church of the Central African Presbyterian (CCAP) has transformed lives of thousands of residents under Changantole and Makumbo Village Development Committees in the area of T/A Zilakoma in Nkhata Bay through the Zilakoma Community Development Program.
Changantole and Makumbo are among the most neglected communities in Nkhata Bay district where residents lack access to basic social services like health facilities, portable water and good road networks.
LISAP with funding from Help a Child (HAC),a Dutch based religious organisation has been implementing the program which aims at reducing poverty through an empowered community that safeguards and sustains the wellbeing of children since 2016.
Through the project, LISAP has facilitated the establishment of Community Based Child Care Centres, self-help groups, Youth Active in Climate Smart Agriculture (YACSMART) clubs and supported youths in vocational skills just to mention but a few.
Chairperson for Changantole Village Development Committee (VDC) Emmanuel Masango told Capital FM that the coming in of LISAP has brought remarkable changes in their individual lives as well as the community.
“For example, household monthly incomes of many residents in the area have increased as well as individual savings. These are direct results of self-help groups and other income generating initiatives that LISAP has introduced,” Masango said.
“In addition, our children now have access to early childhood education and our parenting skills have been enhanced through the training we have undergone. The benefits are just too many, before LISAP our lives were pathetic,” she said.
LISAP Programs Manager Charity Nyirenda expressed satisfaction with the progress made in reducing poverty in the community.
“We have seen good results in reducing poverty. When we started implementing in 2016 we did a baseline assessment which indicated that at household level, one could have an income of MK16, 000 per month but now mid-way into the project we have done a mid-term evaluation which has shown that there is an improvement from MK16, 000 to around MK54, 000,” Nyirenda said.
He added; “And since we have established several groups that work towards reducing this poverty like the self-help groups which we have about 60 of them, we have seen that individuals are able to borrow money from the groups’ savings such that they are now doing businesses which are helping in improving their living standards.”
Apart from empowering the communities economically, Nyirenda said considering that the communities lack social services, they have empowered them so that they are able to demand these services from duty bearers.
“What we have also done is train the existing governance structures like the Area Development Committees (ADCs) and Village Development Committees (VDCs) on their roles and responsibilities so that they are able to face duty bearers like the district council to request some of these social services. We have also linked them with other service providers so that they can help them with safe and portable water,” she said.
And the Chief Executive Officer for HAC Andries Schuttinga who toured the project impact area was satisfied by the impact of the project.
“It is always wonderful to see that people are empowered to get themselves out of poverty which will help them to raise their children better. Our mandate is to help children grow better and we believe we can help children when we help their families and the community,” Schuttinga said.
“There is a lot that still needs to improve but it is good to see that there is a lot of resilience among the people as they are trying to better themselves and what we are doing is worth it,” he said.