Addressing healthy settings in Malawi
Over a period of 9 months the SCHI team has been embedded in the Mfera catchment area identifying the needs, priorities and social capital issues within the 18 villages. The villages have provided their input through the series of focus groups discussions in each village with leadership, men, women, male youth, female youth and marginalised groups, household surveys, mapping and transect walks. The information was consolidated into village profiles which were then fed back to each group to ensure they agreed with the content.
Facilitators from each group were then chosen to lead the development of action plans for each group, and these representatives are now working with a wider Village Action Group which is formed from representation in each group. These village action plans are now being implemented by the wider community to address the main priorities and needs of village members. For the first time, marginalised groups such as the disabled, elderly and youth also feel that they have representation and a say in the their plans and future, and we hope that this will continue to improve, as the wider representation on the village action groups develops.
Although this may seem long process, the SCHI team have been committed to reducing the previous barriers faced in developing social capital and community representation in village development programmes. Action plans contain not only tangible plans such as increasing boreholes and sanitation, but also bonding plans such as sports competitions and community meetings to increase ownership and responsibility within the community itself. SCHI do not see these action plans as belonging to the project but the village, and it is hoped that as priorities are addressed the needs and actions will adapt and change over time. These plans and their implementation will be supported not only by SCHI but also the extension workers within the area depending on the specific need. As such, SCHI will also continue to build better relationships between community members and extension workers to open channels of communication and support.
Over time we will be updating you on specific stories from the target communities as these plans develop.