Transforming Lives in Welusi Village: The Power of Nutrition and WASH Program by Lusubilo Community Care
In a small rural village tucked away from the central business district, a heartwarming success story was unfolding, thanks to an innovative program that addressed the vital aspects of Nutrition and Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH). The program not only taught beneficiaries how to produce through good agricultural practices such as use of Mbeya and Chinadango manure, but also provided invaluable knowledge on nutrition, use of backyard gardens and promoted adoption of essential WASH facilities.
Meet Brenda Colleta Sichali, a mother of two living in Welusi village, under Senior Group Village Headman Welusi in Traditional Authority Kyungu, Karonga who found her life transformed by this multi-faceted initiative. She, like many others in her community, faced daily challenges concerning nutrition, sanitation, and income security. The introduction of the WASH program through the Integrated Orphan, Vulnerable Children and Youth project (Graduation Model) implemented by Lusubilo Community Care, turned her life around in ways she could not have imagined.
Empowering with Good Agricultural Practices
The foundation of this success story began with the implementation of good agricultural practices. The program provided participants like Brenda with trainings, skills and financial support for farm inputs to cultivate their own backyard gardens, dambo lands and fields.
This transformed previously unused lands into bountiful gardens crowded with fresh vegetables and fruits. Brenda began cultivating in her own field and dimba a variety of nutritious crops like cassava, maize, beans, sesame, tomatoes, okra, and pumpkins.
“My husband and I were really struggling to produce food for the family. We had a 3-acre land in which most of the time we could just produce 100kgs of maize from the 2-acre land and the rest of the land was being rented to some people because we lacked how to diversify and utilize it fully. When we were introduced to Lusubilo Graduation Model Project, we attended different trainings on Agriculture and the messages from our household mentors motivated us to try new ways of farming. We are now able to produce 750kilograms of maize, 80kilogramms of groundnuts and 20 kilograms of other legumes, we are also renting a 0.5acre land in which we are cultivating cassava and yielding about 400kilogramms of it. The dimba farming help us to supplement our yield” Sichali explained.
Nutrition Education and Cooking Demonstrations
In taking the importance of good agricultural practices as just the beginning, Sichali and her fellow participants were then introduced to the critical aspect of nutrition. The program introduced trainings on nutrition, energy stoves and cooking demonstrations, where participants learned how to prepare balanced and wholesome meals for their families and also the importance of using energy cook stoves. These sessions emphasized the significance of incorporating diverse food groups into their daily diets, ensuring they received the essential nutrients needed for growth and overall well-being.
Sichali expressed her gratitude for the intervention as her family has benefited a lot from it. “At first, we were just hearing about six food groups at antenatal clinics but we lacked a practical understanding of what it really meant. My first-born child was often sick and not growing well, but through the nutrition and WASH trainings and cooking demonstrations that have taken place, we are now able to be creative enough with our family meals and my son’s weight is progressing because he is eating well”, explained Sichali.
Apart from the nutrition education and cooking demonstrations, the project also encourages participants to use energy cooking stoves to promote adoption of easy, safe, and climate smart. The stoves are climate smart because they emit less smoke, use less firewood and they are faster to use than traditional stoves. Stove making orientations were also conducted as a way of improving hygiene and sanitation during food preparation. The stoves are made from bricks (burnt or unburnt), sand and clay soils, and animal manure.
Sichali just like many other participants in her area have the stoves and they agree that it is really useful. Sichali expressed that “we used to go uphill to fetch bundles of firewood which would just last a week or 2, but now with the stoves we use up to 2 months without going to fetch other bundles of firewood”.
WASH Facilities for Improved Hygiene
The program also focused on improving water, sanitation, and hygiene practices where beneficiaries were encouraged to build essential WASH facilities, such as toilets, bathrooms, drying lines, refuse pits, functional kitchens, dish racks, and hand-washing stations. These facilities not only enhanced their overall living conditions but also played a pivotal role in preventing waterborne diseases and promoting a clean and hygienic environment.
“At first our home had no toilet and we used to go to nearby bushes to relieve ourselves. We also did not often practice washing of hands as we do now. We also had no bathroom and other WASH facilities such as refuse pits and dish racks. We used to get a bath at nearby rivers but the coming of Lusubilo project through their officers and household mentors, we have been equipped with good behavior change practices. I always encourage my neighbours and other people that are not in the project to also practice sanitation and hygiene by having the WASH facilities at their homes so that we all progress as a village” said Sichali.
Small Livestock and Income Security
To further boost their nutrition and income security, participants were encouraged to raise small livestock like chickens, ducks, and rabbits. Sichali eagerly embraced this opportunity, and soon her backyard was filled with clucking chickens and ducks. The eggs and meat from the livestock provided an additional source of nutrition for her family, and she also began selling the surplus, generating a steady income for her household. “We acquired these livestock through Lusubilo Project, and it is helping us in many ways, we can sell to buy food and other needs at home. These animals are helping us to eat well and stay health”, She explained.
One of the highlights of the program was the organization of nutrition fairs. These fairs provided a platform for participants to showcase their agricultural produce and culinary skills. Sichali proudly displayed her skills, and she had an opportunity to exchange ideas and recipes with fellow beneficiaries. The nutrition fairs also served as a motivation for everyone to continue their journey toward a healthier lifestyle.
A Transformed Life
Sichali’s life, along with the lives of other countless in her community, underwent a remarkable transformation. She went from struggling in providing nutritious meals for her family to becoming a confident farmer and cook. Her children are healthier, and she no longer has worries about diseases related to poor sanitation and hygiene. The income generated from selling surplus produce and small livestock improved her family’s financial stability.
The success story of Sichali and her community is a testament to the power of comprehensive programs implemented by Lusubilo Community Care that address the interconnected issues of nutrition and WASH. Through education, empowerment, and community support, these beneficiaries now lead healthier and more fulfilling lives.
By Communication Office.