Determined to Develop has identified local challenges through community collaboration and academic research with the aim of creating sustainable solutions to address issues. Through sharing our thinking, we hope to allow others to replicate and scale-up our work, positively affecting the largest number of beneficiaries possible.
What is the challenge?
Working at a grassroots level daily, we are able to work closely with the community to identify the most pertinent and pressing issues at hand. Needs assessments are conducted regularly, at which time local community members identify both the challenges being faced, and the possible solutions. These assessments are necessary to ensure that the findings explored, and subsequent solutions, are relevant and applicable to the community in which we work.
What are the findings?
Through primary research we investigate and analyze challenges in the local context. A majority of this research is conducted by visiting university students from the USA, and abstracts from their academic papers have been included where possible. In these cases, all research has passed rigorous ethical oversight to ensure that no Malawians are negatively impacted.
What is the solution?
Using research findings and input from the local community, we create, develop, implement and evaluate tangible solutions to address challenges. Much has been learned from this process, which we hope to share with others working in the development sector. Our research falls under four broad themes; formal education, non-formal education, NGO management, and community projects. These themes fall in line with our program areas and expertise, so as to best promote evidence-based innovation. The information provided is meant to inform and inspire grassroots leaders and development professionals alike. We have links to document and resources, whenever possible, which we believe can be of use to other grassroots leaders.
Improving Access to Quality Education
Challenge: Lack of access to quality secondary education
With only 18% of primary school leavers in the Chilumba area being selected for secondary school (2016), an overwhelming number of stakeholders in the community identified the need for higher quality schools with more resources. Education needs in the area are twofold, as both access to and the quality of secondary education needs improvement.
Findings: Schroeder, J (2016) Securing Quality Secondary Education: Issues of Accessibility and Equity in Northern Malawi
Researchers conducted a survey and analysis to assess the status of secondary education in Malawi and the key variables which influence successes and failures of secondary schools in northern Malawi. Data on school enrollment, exam pass rates, school drop outs and secondary school selection rates were collected during interviews and meetings with senior teachers at secondary schools in the Karonga district and northern division of Mzuzu. Interviews provided an insight into institutional practices while campus tours enabled a qualitative analysis of infrastructure and educational environment to be conducted. Although 64.8% of primary school students in the Chilumba area passed examinations, only 25% of those students were selected to go to government secondary schools. Of those, 94% were selected to go to a Community Day Secondary School (CDSS). However, boarding schools were considered to create a more conducive learning environment with better education growth and character development than open-setting secondary schools. CDSS headmasters agreed that they would prefer investment in on-campus boarding, infrastructure, more textbooks, and well qualified teachers. For building a new school in the area, the study recommends that this should be a boarding school with the capacity to offer student services including counseling, study support and medical care. A set daily schedule with study time and extracurricular activities should also be implemented, with lessons in line with the Ministry of Education’s curriculum. Male and female students should be allowed to interact with each other outside of the classroom when they attend single-sex schools.
Findings: Fackel-Darrow, C (2017) Integrated Curricular Learning in Developing Countries: What are the Techniques for the Application of Enrichment Topics Added to a General Curriculum to Develop a Well-Rounded Adult?
Student interviews, school observations and textbook and syllabi analysis for key topics and teaching strategies were undertaken to develop a weekly, after school and weekend schedule and activities, and an informal curriculum plan and lessons for form 1 students starting at the school in September 2017. The goal of this informal curriculum developed at Wasambo High School is to provide students with enrichment activities that promote development in a wholesome way and to facilitate the building of social, health, and economic assets in a safe and fun learning environment. Topics involve the more basic “life skills” curriculum most Malawian students take in secondary school, but are expanded with active and extended learning activities, as well as lessons in business studies and computer studies derived from the traditional Malawian syllabi and other resources.
Research methodology included student interviews and school observations, and analyzing textbooks and syllabi for key topics and teaching strategies. The culmination of this project was developing a weekly, after school, and weekend schedule and activities, and an informal curriculum plan and lessons for the form 1 students beginning September, 2017.
Solution: Establishment of Wasambo Boys Boarding High School
In September 2017, D2D opened Wasambo Boys High School to meet the demand for education space, with the ability to host 320 boarding students at full capacity. Available scholarships allow high achievers from the local area to continue with education regardless of financial circumstances, furthering opportunities for those less able to access secondary education. In addition, the school aims to raise education standards by infusing a model of student-centered learning into the syllabus. A mixed expatriate and Malawian staff brings a contemporary pedagogy of international standards to the table.
Please visit wasambo.org for more information and recent updates on Wasambo Boys High School
Challenge: Lack of access to technical education in Chilumba
Several technical schools exist within Malawi, however, none exist within the Chilumba catchment area. This study explores the need for technical education in the area and the benefits it would bring.
Findings: Cadman, M (2018) Exploring formal technical education in the Chilumba catchment area and its benefits to the youth: an in-depth analysis of market and opportunity
During a nine-week period, research was conducted in Sangilo, Khwawa, Uliwa, and Hara villages in the Chilumba catchment area. There are three technical schools closest to these villages: Miracle, Ngara, and Phwezi Technical Schools. The purpose was to conduct at an in-depth analysis of market and opportunity for a technical college in the Chilumba catchment area.
The study consisted of qualitative method and participatory analysis. The qualitative method was made up of interviews amongst different groups of community members within the area. The participatory analysis was a card exercise where each interviewee was asked to rank twenty-five different programs from the most beneficial to the least beneficial for their community. The participants were then asked to explain why they chose the top three and bottom three programs.
Through the interviews, the research was able to analyze which programs should be offered, how much community members can afford in fees, any negatives associated with technical education, and how the ideal structure of technical school would be constructed. Interviewees see technical education as an alternate route to higher education for their community and a way to develop their community economically. Currently, there are no technical schools within walking distance of these villages. Limited transportation makes it extremely difficult for students to access technical schools outside the catchment area. Having a technical school within walking distance is important to the community because it would allow students to operate from home and not have to pay for full boarding. Community members expressed concern that fees would be unaffordable.
Opening a technical school in the TA Wasambo area would help move towards less unemployment within the area from the beginning since community members would need to be hired to build the school. Community members also explained how the skills students learn at technical school can be used to be self-employed. Once becoming self-employed, they can share these skills amongst their friends who did not have the chance to continue on with higher education. All fifty youth that were interviewed stated that they would be willing to attend technical school if one were built in the area.
Developing Nursery Education
Challenge: Lack of quality nursery education in the area
Despite recognition in Malawi that nursery education is beneficial to childhood development, this aspect of education in the country is given little to no support. Nursery school curriculums exist, but are underutilized. Nursery schools teachers have usually not received training, and lack monetary support.
Findings: Rodriguez, C (2016) The Impacts and Benefits of Nursery School Education in the Chilumba Catchment Region of Malawi
Educational scores from 992 primary school students in standards 1-3 were collected from Hara and Sangilo primary schools in the Chilumba area of Karonga District and analyzed through SPSS software. In conjunction, face-to-face fixed-response interviews were conducted with eight nursery school teachers and one local chief, focusing on the benefits and drawbacks of nursery school education, as well as nursery school observations and 100 student evaluations. Student evaluations established a baseline of knowledge held by pupils within nursery school as well as a comparison between those in and out of nursery school, and between boys and girls. Meanwhile, observations created a picture of teaching methods and learning environment. Mean scores from standard 1 classes indicated that scores from pupils who had attended D2D nurseries were lower than their counterparts who had attended other nurseries or no nurseries at all. Conversely, standard 3 pupils from D2D supported nurseries achieved the highest mean scores. Results may be attributable to differing teaching styles between nursery and primary schools, where D2D pupils had taken longer to adapt to primary school but in the long term did better. Pupils having attended the more highly resourced nursery were also on the whole higher achievers. Overall the research suggests that nursery school education had a positive impact on primary education. Due to certain limitations the study recommends that better organized school records should be kept with spot-checks and penalties on schools with incomplete records, which would improve monitoring. Nursery schools supported by D2D could be improved through teacher training and the creation of a structured curriculum to help prepare pupils for primary school.
Solution: Development of a nursery school curriculum
Addressing the need for more access to nursery education, D2D established 4 nursery schools in the local area. Establishment included building of the school structures, training of the teachers, provision of materials, and development of a nursery school curriculum, which is now being implemented at all of D2D’s partnering nursery schools.
The three-term curriculum targets Malawian children, ages 3 to 4. Lessons focus on physical well-being as well as motor, cognitive, language, literacy, social, and emotional development. Focus was placed on including culturally relevant and appropriate strategies, topics, and best learning practices. In order to do so, standards from the U.S. Department of Education, Ohio State, and Malawi were referenced.
Improving Education Through Community Participation
Challenge: Failing Parent Teacher Associations (PTAs), and the negative impact on education
The decentralized governmental system in Malawi provides opportunities for the public to actively engage in making changes to their community. This gives Parent Teacher Associations (PTAs) the potential to have a significant impact on schools and education. But while parents can influence the success of a child’s education, they can by the same measure influence its failure. The challenge faced is understanding how PTAs operate in the Karonga south region to ensure their success so education may flourish with its community inputs.
Findings: Stadler, R.M (2015) PTAs and the Development of Primary and Secondary Schools in Malawi
The study examines the impact that parent teacher associations (PTAs) have on the infrastructural and material development of primary and secondary schools in the Karonga South Region of Malawi and the northern city of Mzuzu. Semi-structured interviews were conducted over eight weeks with three PEAs (Primary Education Advisers) and a district council member to understand PTA structures and funding. Seventeen head teachers, 16 heads of PTAs and 29 parents of schoolchildren were also interviewed in this timeframe to establish successes and failures of PTAs. Interviewees were also asked to identify school issues following which quantitative analysis revealed that girls’ education, feeding programs, child labor, access, funding and training for PTAs were the most prevalent. The study concludes that funding and training is key to the success of PTAs and therefore recommends that this consideration should be made by government and NGOs attempting to develop schools and education, on the basis that parents, teachers and the wider community directly influence the educational outcome of school-aged children. The delivery of sustainable feeding programs, support groups, extracurricular activities and hostels, particularly for girls, are also recommended as ways to improve school retention.
Solution: Organizational Participation in PTA
While D2D does not currently run a specific PTA orientated program, a D2D representative attends all PTA meetings at Khwawa and Thunduti Community Day Secondary Schools to offer support and engage them in discussions concerning youth development, education, and girl’s empowerment.
Challenge: Lack of male understanding of and participation in female empowerment
While there is significant emphasis on girls’ empowerment, boys’ role in the process is often not taken into account. A better understanding of gender roles and male understanding of female empowerment is needed to include males in female empowerment.
Findings: Mazza, E (2018) The Role of Men And Boys in the Empowerment of Women And Girls
Current attitudes of the surrounding community on women’s empowerment were evaluated to be used in constructing a curriculum on female empowerment for the surrounding high schools. The quantitative methodology consisted of surveys given to high school aged males in the area. The surveys conducted provided insight into the beliefs of male students in private versus public schools within the area of focus. The qualitative methodology included individual interviews with both adult males and youth males. Other interviews included focus groups of both adult females and youth females for comparison against the male interviewees.
Overall, Malawians generally claimed to support the empowerment of women. Many of the responses from male respondents showed amounts of social desirability bias. Adult males believe in the education of girls, and also feel they share the general household responsibilities such as cooking, cleaning and raising the children. They believe in teaching their sons not to cry in times of distress and a majority of youth males do not believe it is right for a boy to cry. Youth males expressed positive sentiments toward assisting in the household chores, however under varied circumstances. With regard to the female interviews, it was noted that there were some discrepancies between what male interviewees said and what female interviewees said. While adult female interviewees showed similar responses and believe they share many of the household chores with their husbands, many youth females did not feel they and their male siblings had equal responsibilities around the house. Recommendations include further research on sexual harassment and consent, a detailed emphasis on self-awareness in the home, and the development of a Girls Club equivalent for boys.
Keeping Girls in School Using Formal Education
Challenge: Adolescent girls dropping out of school in large numbers.
Girls dropping out of school is commonplace among the villages within D2D’s catchment area and reflects a nation-wide problem. Often adolescent girls are influenced by family and peers to marry or have a baby early in attempts to secure financial and social stability, but in reality, this often perpetuates an ongoing cycle of poverty as girls do not complete the education needed to lift themselves out of this cycle.
Findings: Driscoll, C.E (2016) Determined to Develop: Factors Contributing to a Girl’s Decision to Drop Out of School in the Chilumba Catchment Area of Malawi
Early marriage and pregnancy are known contributing factors for girls dropping out of school early in the Chilumba area of the Karonga district in Malawi. Consequently research in this study sought to determine additional reasons as to why girls drop out of school early in this area. Face-to-face private interviews were conducted with adolescent girls from four local schools, NGO Determined to Develop’s senior Girls Club, and surrounding villages over an eight week period. Respondents comprised of both school attending girls and girls who had dropped out from school, of which the latter was found to be faced with poverty-related challenges in particular. Such daily challenges reported by girls included a lack of basic needs such as clothes, food, soap, and money including school fees, a lack of parental support, and harassment and infidelity from men. Peer-pressure, lack of self-esteem and domestic issues were also reasons for dropping out. Girls who had dropped out of school generally felt this had been their only option within their personal circumstances and believed that marriage, or getting pregnant in the hope of being proposed to, could provide greater financial stability despite being able to recognize the importance of education. Orphans felt the impact of these challenges considerably more. The study concludes that only when a girl’s basic necessities are met can she thrive in school and non-formal education programs, which are recommended to allow girls to build confidence and a support network within a safe space. Analyzed data in this study was also used to construct a two year non-formal education curriculum for Determined to Develop’s Girls Club.
Solution: Non-Formal Girls Education Curriculum
D2D has developed a two year holistic non-formal education curriculum (NFEC) for three age groups of girls, offering an overall six year plan from ages 13-18, to be delivered at weekly Girls Club meetings. Lessons are delivered in a safe female-only space where girls can exchange ideas in a fun and collaborative learning environment. The curriculum is currently being piloted in D2D’s weekly primary and senior Girls Clubs meetings, with a goal to have the finalized version complete in 2020.
The two-year curriculum targets three age groups of girls, offering an overall six year non-formal education plan for ages 13-18. It is interactive, engaging, and promotes life skills which can empower girls to resist societal pressures that may negatively impact their education, health and wellbeing. Lessons cover a wide range of topics including reproductive health, goal setting, public speaking, leadership, and confidence building. This curriculum is meant to compliment the formal education that each of the girls receive in school, including the Malawian Life Skills Curriculum.
Challenge: Assessing the effectiveness of current Girls Club programming
Findings: Breitenstein, L (2018) Girls Club Curriculum Evaluation
Literature surrounding curriculum assessment strategies was analyzed and similar programs in Sub-Saharan Africa were reviewed. From this collected information, three major points were identified: (1) D2D’s program is the longest program identified in the literature review. By comparison, the next longest program lasts 18 months. This was important to keep in mind when watching for repetitiveness within D2D’s curriculum. (2) There are four main themes that Girls Clubs choose to format their clubs around: sexual and reproductive health, financial literacy, rights education, and soft life skills. D2D’s Girls Club program falls under the category of soft life skills. (3) The most effective way for D2D to perform its curriculum evaluation is a combination of interviewing participants and facilitators.
Sixty-four interviews were completed, and the data collected was organized and analyzed. The data was codified into overarching categories in order to make it easier to present. Interviews were followed by conversations between D2D Girls Club facilitators and the researcher in order to identify places within the curriculum that could be modified. The modifications were suggested based on the data collected during the interviews.
Recommendations include: (1) Referencing suggested curriculum modifications and implementing them into the curriculum, (2) Restructuring its Girls Club program to follow a Form 4 mentorship program, (3) Conducting curriculum evaluations every three years.
Improving Girls’ Financial Independence Through Income-Generating Activities
Challenge: Lack of economic involvement and financial opportunities for adolescent girls
Adolescent girls in rural Malawi lack access to financial opportunities and are not involved in financial decision-making within their families. Ignoring the possible economic contributions of adolescent girls creates a barrier to equitable development.
Findings: Langford, M (2018) Exploring Best Practices for Adolescent Girls’ Economic Empowerment in Rural Malawi
The study followed a community-led approach to promote responsible and sustainable development research. The study was primarily qualitative, relying on purposefully sampled interviews and focus groups to gather data. Data were transcribed and analyzed using a grounded theory approach. Existing D2D women’s IGA program documents were also analyzed to inform future organization for the adolescent programs.
Interview data revealed rural Malawian adolescent girls do not perceive themselves to have access to financial decision-making or income-generating opportunities, and they believe a sponsored IGA program would alleviate barriers to their economic participation. Interviews with adolescent girls, community members, and business owners promoted kaunjika (used clothing) and raising chickens as the most feasible business options because of the profit margins and relatively low skill needed to sustain the business. Interviews also revealed a concern about the girls’ ability to balance education and business-related responsibilities, but all potential stakeholders still viewed the project as worthwhile.
Based on the collected data, the researcher has three main recommendations. First, the IGA program must include financial literacy training to promote sustainable economic development. Second, educational attainment should remain the ultimate focus for the girls. This should be reflected in the business training and written program by-laws. Third, the organization of the IGA should be peer-led and supported to give the participants the most ownership and responsibility of the program.
Solution: Leadership Workshop
Leadership training is crucial to both ensuring the sustainability of D2D programs and developing the future leaders of Malawi. This is why D2D intentionally tries to include a leadership component in all of its programming. This includes hosting twice annual leadership workshops for all D2D sponsored youth. The workshops are three-day events that take place on holiday breaks, and lessons focus on leadership skills, goal setting, health, and safety.
Solution: Computer Literacy Training
The D2D technology center provides rural Malawians the chance to learn to use and operate a computer, an opportunity they might not otherwise have access to. Housing 17 fully-functioning computers, the center offers lessons to locals of all ages which are facilitated by trained Malawians and international volunteers. Over 430 hours of lessons have been given in the technology center to 203 local primary school students, secondary school students, and community members.
Improving Women’s Financial Independence Through Income-Generating Activities
Challenge: Limited opportunities for rural women in poverty
Limited educational and employment opportunities for rural women in Malawi makes it particularly difficult for them to lift themselves out of poverty.
Findings: Altomare, A (2016) The Effect of Microcredit on Women’s Empowerment
Research was conducted to establish whether cash or livestock based micro-finance programs have a greater impact on women’s empowerment in the Chilumba area of Karonga District, Malawi. Baseline wealth surveys were conducted across the five micro-finance groups supported by NGO Determined to Develop, to reveal the economic benefits of these programs. Following this, a mixed-method approach was used to establish individual interviews with 37 women from a revolving goat group (livestock program) and group interviews with four income generating activity (IGA) groups (cash programs). Women’s empowerment was measured using indicators of self-confidence, financial confidence, autonomy in decision making and perceived contribution to the community. Highlighted differences between cash and livestock programs were noted where individual empowerment was evident in the livestock program, with members of the goat group scoring well in financial confidence and self-confidence but not social capital. Meanwhile, IGA groups performed much higher in social capital reflecting the collaborative nature of their program. Overall both types of programs indicated positive signs of empowerment in line with their respective goals, although livestock programs were perceived to be more sustainable by survey participants. Findings can be used to develop program outcomes, including profits for all groups and social interaction within the goat group. Further research is also recommended to make conclusions based on income and wealth data.
Solution: Women’s Business Groups
To address the identified need for women to have more financial independence, D2D assisted in the development of several women-run income generating and revolving micro-credit activities. In the process, D2D delivered group members with training on business skills, record keeping, and management that are both useful for their participation in the activity and are easily transferable. D2D staff overseeing these projects produced a toolkit for income generating activities (IGA) and revolving goat groups, to provide a resource for members and supporters of these groups.
In 2018, D2D handed over all women’s IGAs and micro-finance projects to group members. Given all of the necessary training, resources, and start-up capital needed to continue operations themselves, the members of these groups have taken complete ownership of the projects and are continuing to make income, increasing their financial independence.
Establishment of School Feeding Programs to Improve Nutritional Intake
Challenge: 42% stunting rate for children under five years old in Malawi
Access to healthcare and access to food are basic human rights. However, hunger is a very real problem for many children in Malawi. There is a high prevalence of under-nutrition and micronutrient deficiencies and the stunting rate for children under 5 in Malawi is 42% (2015 World Food Program), a figure that has not improved for many years. Schools have a high dropout rate for a number of reasons, and many of those who do attend school walk far distances to and from on empty stomachs. This not only affects a child’s health, but also their concentration levels and performance in class, and contributes to the number of children dropping out of school.
Findings: After identifying the challenge, D2D conducted research to gain a better understanding of the issue, nutritional requirements of school-aged children, and the feasibility of running a school feeding program.
Inadequate nutrition in the first years of life can interfere with brain development and can lead to neurological and behavioral disorders as well as learning disabilities later in life. There is considerable evidence illustrating that infants exposed to good nutrition and adequate psychosocial stimulation have increased brain function than those raised with a lack of nutrition. Nutrition in the early years of life can have a profound effect on children’s health status as well as their ability to learn, think analytically and socialize with others, and their capacity to adapt and change. Good nutrition is also critical in avoiding and surviving childhood diseases. In situations of inadequate nutrition, the body spontaneously ranks survival first and growth second and cognitive and brain development last.
In Malawi, schools feeding programs are sometimes established in schools, usually run by foreign charities or non-profit organizations, but are not required. These programs are sometimes the only meal students will eat in a day. The food typically consists of a porridge, either maize with sugar and oil, or a fortified porridge called likuni phala, and is offered either before, during, or after the classroom sessions.
D2D contacted non-governmental organizations and hospitals running feeding programs in Malawi, as well as nutritionists, to inform the project. Research regarding recommended daily allowances for children concluded that the quantity per child should be as follows: 45 grams of maize, 7.5 grams of sugar, and 1.5 grams of salt. Likuni phala, although a more expensive option, ensures children are gaining nutritional benefits, as opposed to just a full stomach. Using a product that has added nutritional value helps to fight stunting, malnutrition, and micronutrient deficiencies and ensures a focus on the long-term issues as opposed to just the immediate need. Research concluded that each child in a feeding program would need 50 grams of likuni phala per day.
Solution: Implementing Feeding Programs at local schools which give students nutritious meals everyday
From 2015-2017, D2D was responsible for developing and managing feeding programs for 2 local nursery schools and 2 local primary schools. Feeding program committees were established, made up of community members, care givers, parents and relevant members of the community, to ensure oversight and community involvement in this project.
The programs were extremely successful. In the two years of operation, over 2.5 million meals were provided to students.
Optimizing Environmental Efforts to Combat Deforestation
Challenge: Rapid and widespread deforestation in Malawi
Findings: Kuminecz, C (2017) Exploring Successful African Models of Community Reforestation, Applications Toward New Reforestation Efforts in the Chilumba Catchment Area.
Through interviews and observations, this study investigates deforestation and how it can best be countered by the non-governmental organization (NGO) Determined to Develop (D2D) in the Chilumba Catchment area of Malawi. D2D recognizes the need to confront the harsh implications of deforestation, such as fuel depletion and environmental degradation. The investigation found that communities play a large part in the success of environmental projects, reforestation is not the only means to combat deforestation, and NGOs must foster a relationship with the Forestry Department to ensure successful environmental projects. In culmination of the information collected and analyzed in this study, a recommendation was formed detailing how D2D can optimize its environmental efforts.
Mitigating the Effects of Climate Change on Natural Resources
Challenge: An increase of unpredictable weather patterns impacting the daily lives of Malawians
Findings: Foster, J (2017) A Community Needs Assessment of Environmental Projects and Opportunities, Including GIS Mapping of Community Environmental Resources, with an Emphasis on the Mitigation of the Effects of Climate Change.
Climate change is a complicated issue and there are many factors that are affected by it and a lot of possible solutions to aid in mitigating its effects. This report covers how natural resources in Malawi have been affected by climate change and what that means for the people living there. The resources include forests, grasses, water, crops, livestock, and human health. In exploring how those resources have been transformed by climate change, overpopulation and overexploitation become patterns as well. As the changes are examined, efforts of other non-governmental organizations are explored as well. Recommendations are made for Determined to Develop throughout each section on common strategies other NGOs are using to approach each area of change.
NGO Support for Government Agriculture Services
Challenge: Delivering effective extension services so that farmers can increase their yield and profit. Failing agriculture extension services resulting in decreased yields and profits.
Findings: Dibadj, A (2017) Impact of Direct Support of Government Institutions in the Chilumba Catchment Area
Research determining which private and government agricultural services are available in the Chilumba area of Karonga, Malawi and their direct impact on farmers. Agricultural Development Extension Officers (ADEOs), NGOs and Ministry of Agriculture workers were interviewed face-to-face using a structured interview questionnaire and assistance from a local extension worker to establish this while also enabling a better understanding of the relationship between private and public sector agricultural services in the T/A Wasambo area. Twenty-nine farmers were also interviewed with an interpreter to determine how agricultural services affected their households. Respondents were selected through snowball sampling with no more than three farmers being interviewed per village, following which responses were written down and later recorded in Microsoft Excel for analysis. Findings revealed that the 47% public sector vacancy rate for AEDOs was attributed to poor working conditions where NGOs could offer better pay and working conditions. The high vacancy rate resulted in employed public sector AEDOs being responsible for a catchment of 1500-2000 households each, an impossible number of households to visit. Consequently only 59% of farmers in the study had ever been reached by an AEDO, despite farming techniques received from AEDOs being reported by farmers to be of most use. Outreach and education were emphasized by both public and private sectors but farmers were more concerned with feeding their families than understanding issues such as climate change. Moreover, farmers stated that the Malawian market was unsustainable with unfair prices and a saturation of the same crops such as cassava, maize and rice. On these bases it is recommended that NGOs working to improve the agricultural market provide inputs (soft loans) and a market to sell at a reasonable price while ensuring farmers have produce to sell. If NGOs were to sponsor an AEDO or provide them with a motorbike they could work more efficiently and combat vacancies. Better communication between NGOs and the Ministry of Agriculture would also improve efficiency in working towards shared food security goals.
Improved Efficiency in the Development Sector
Challenge: Reduced effectiveness and longevity of development projects
Findings: Beatty, N (2017) When Things Fall Apart: What Are the Reasons Donor-Driven Projects Fail? A Case Study of D2D and Chilumba Catchment Area
Relationships between non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and village leaders in the Chilumba area of northern Malawi were examined through the lens of NGO management to establish reasons why donor-driven projects fail. Face-to-face interviews were conducted with 13 NGO staff members across seven NGOs including seven project managers to uncover management styles, in addition to interviews with 17 village chiefs and supplementary village focus groups to establish communication between remote villages and NGOs. A village needs assessment and analysis of current projects delivered by NGOs also determined where and how NGOs were responding to village needs. Poor village accessibility was attributed to only 39% of villages in the study being partnered with NGOs at the time data was collected, while a lack of coordination and limited sharing of information between NGOs was highlighted by NGO staff. Despite strong communication being needed for increasing project efficiency and reducing distrust between NGOs and villages, projects that failed were often as a result of poor communication, both inter-NGO and between NGOs and villages. Informal goal setting also contributed to errors between staff and upper management in once instance, which furthermore reduced project efficiency. Conversely, community participation resulted in greater project success. The two-to-one success rate of projects in the area points out the need for greater project efficiency which can be improved through strong communication and sharing of information between NGOs, strategic planning, periodic reviews, evaluation and community participation.
Solution: Developing a 5 year Organizational Strategic Plan
The Determined to Develop (D2D) Strategic Plan for the years 2019 – 2023 is designed to guide the organization’s resources in a way that best promotes education and development in the Chilumba area where D2D operates, and in the wider region. Having now accomplished almost 10 years of successful programming with the help of donors, volunteers, and staff, we have used this Strategic Plan to reflect on how best to move the organization forward to its next phase of operations. In the process of developing a plan, a community needs assessment was conducted to ensure community participation.
Challenge: Poor communication and collaboration leads to project failure
Lack of information on resources and who works where with whom within the development sector can lead to inefficiencies such as an overlapping of projects, relationship breakdowns and ineffectiveness. A lack of collaboration and communication can exacerbate this, ultimately risking project failure.
Findings: O’Malley, E (2015) Effective Collaboration and Its Potential Role in the Development of Chilumba, Malawi: A Stakeholder Analysis
A stakeholder analysis was conducted over a two month period by mapping out significant players and institutions in the Traditional Authority Wasambo area following which interviews and focus groups were held with non-governmental organizations (NGOs), government groups and village development committees (VDCs). Eight NGOs were approached to establish development programs delivered and all VDCs in the TA Wasambo area were approached to determine which programs work, in a combined ‘top down’ and ‘bottom up’ approach. Secondary interviews also encompassed attitudes and the history of partnership working in the area. NGOs expressed varying development priorities while VDCs had similar development goals but indicated no collaborative working to achieve these goals. Findings provide a composite source of data on current development projects in the Chilumba area which can inform stakeholders on areas to develop in future. Moreover research suggests that if stakeholders were to work collaboratively within the existing devolved development framework, there would be opportunity for more efficient change. Developing a common tongue to connect organizations at the area district committee (ADC) level is essential in the creation of a bridging organization to act as an independent forum for expediting and streamlining development processes.
Findings: Schuller, E (2016) Communication and Project Implementation Among Grassroots Leaders and Human Service Organizations in Chilumba, Malawi
Face-to-face structured interviews were conducted with 27 officially recognized village headmen and five NGOs to determine the interaction and communication between different levels of leadership in development projects. Data on village assets and resources were also collected in order to map out total resources in the Chilumba area as well as a survey conducted to obtain information for the creation of a local area directory. Only 40.7% of villages included in the study had current partnerships with service organizations despite most village leaders expressing interest in forming partnerships. Lack of knowledge and bureaucracy were barriers attributed to the lack of current partnerships. Of the existing partnerships, the majority were formed by service organizations directly contacting villages rather than using the decentralized governmental process. There was only one instance of a village directly contacting an NGO. Partnerships formed outside of the governmental avenue were found to be strongest throughout the duration of a project, even if they were not sustained onwards. Smaller remote villages had less agency to directly approach NGOs as they lacked knowledge and confidence in seeking assistance. Increasing accessibility to direct communication between service organizations and local communities will provide greater opportunities for more useful projects throughout the region. The needs assessment and survey data, when shared among stakeholders, can be used to increase this communication therefore the local directory born out of this study can enable this.
Solution: Creation of a T/A Wasambo Area Directory
Through researching collaboration between local level grassroots leaders, non-governmental organizations and stakeholders, D2D identified the need for streamlining the community-engagement process in the Chilumba area. However, not having access to information on current projects, village assets, or key contacts proved to be a challenge. Recognizing this, D2D created a directory containing information on villages in the Wasambo Traditional Authority area including contact details for chiefs, advisors, civil servants, and organizations working in the area. The purpose is to provide community leaders and development organizations the resource for communicating with one another and fostering collaboration. As the directory is rolled out in its first phase, it will be reviewed and eventually expanded upon in upcoming years to include details of current and past development projects, a detailed list of important contact details, and a map of villages and projects generated through geographic information system mapping.
Bringing Culture Into Development
Challenge: Lack of awareness of cultural traditions can hamper development efforts and relations with stakeholders
Implementing successful development projects which tie into local Malawian contexts can be challenging when the donors and development workers are non-Malawian. Positive relationships between local communities and NGOs, which are essential for positive development outcomes, are also threatened by cultural misunderstandings. By gaining knowledge on the local cultural context where D2D operates, D2D can find ways to effectively work which overcome discord between culture and development.
Findings: Herr, M.E (2015) The Relationship Between Culture and Development: A Case Study of Rural Malawi
A cultural examination of living generations to establish the impact of foreign development models on traditional Malawian culture. A series of qualitative interviews were conducted with chiefs, elders and youth aged 18-26 in rural and urban settings between Karonga and Mzuzu in the northern district of Malawi following which responses on the perception of culture, tradition and technology were analyzed through Nvivo data analysis software. Research found that older respondents typically tied culture to traditions and were more concerned that western influence would erode their traditional customs, compared to their younger counterparts who were more likely to associate culture with the everyday way of life. Technology was cited by youth more often as a difference between western and Malawian culture, implying greater prominence among this generation. Democracy was associated with freedom but older generations were inclined to view this negatively perceiving freedom, and therefore democracy, as an opportunity for youth to disrespect their elders. Despite the consensus that current culture would be lost in time, elderly respondents also agreed the need for development while engaging youth in traditional culture. Overall the study finds that foreign influences used to outline development policies have eroded traditional culture despite culture being a resource and determinant of development. As such, development policies that balance traditional culture with foreign influence are called for. Government officials including village chiefs should inspire local support for cultural preservation while NGOs should incorporate this into the implementation of policy.
Solution: Annual Community Day Celebrations
Research on culture and development reinforces the importance of taking into account local context for sustainable and effective development programs. This falls in line with existing D2D practices, which place a major focus on local needs and customs. D2D continually reviews projects with input from local staff and community representatives to ensure the inclusion of local viewpoints into project creation and implementation.
As a development organization, D2D would not be able to operate without the continued participation and efforts from local community members. To highlight the partnership between D2D and the community, D2D hosts an annual community day. The event honors and supports cultural preservation with singing, dancing, and speeches from community members.
Challenge: Shifting nature of relationships, education, information exchange, and connection to a larger world for youth as a result of mobile phones
The digital divide between developed and developing countries is closing. This shift can be attributed to mobile phones “leapfrogging” landlines with high infrastructure costs in favor of services such as prepaid payment options and transmitter towers. The study looks into the effects of the increasing access to technology on Malawian youth to form recommendations for D2D regarding its use of social media and technology.
Findings: Donovan, H (2018) The Use of Social Media and Technology by Youth in Malawi
This report utilizes a mixed methods approach of data collection with both quantitative surveys and qualitative interviews using convenience sampling. In total, 60 in-depth interviews were conducted with youth that focused on demographics of participants, uses of smartphones, Facebook, WhatsApp by owners and non-owners, and general technology questions. The quantitative surveys were conducted in four local secondary schools, resulting in a total of 175 surveys. In addition, a focus group at a university outside of T.A. Wasambo was used in order to receive feedback on specific questions that were unanswered by many participants in the first round of interviews.
Ability to use phones is dependent on two important factors: costs and accessibility. The majority of users of mobile devices and, in particular, smartphones, had several characteristics in common: male, in their late teens or early twenties, and able to spare money to pay for data bundles and services. The two most popular social media platforms are Facebook and WhatsApp. When exploring the dangers and disadvantages of phones and phone use, the most common answer was the increase in exposure of immoral behaviors such as pornography, with particular regard to the exposure of the content to youth.
The examination of the effects of mobile phones on the youth of the T.A. Wasambo area allows for future research in areas such as cyber security education and use of social media platforms. Recommendations include creating Facebook and/or WhatsApp groups for sponsored youth and their families, introducing cyber security education, creating more text posts on Facebook to appeal to free version users, and including Chitumbuka or Chichewa languages in social media posts to better appeal to local viewers.
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