Thursday, August 23, 2012

Keeping bees, diversifying income

Farmers we work with regularly live hand-to-mouth. Whatever they have, it's only enough for today, if even that. Tomorrow, they will go out to their fields to get some more food, they will go to the market to sell a handful of tomatoes to afford a bar of soap, or they will simply beg from a neighbour.

One thing that can help a farmer to get his head above water long enough to save and plan for the future is to diversify his income. A farmer who relies entirely on one small irrigated garden may produce enough food for his household, but what about school fees? Clothes? Medicine?

Africa Windmill Project is introducing bee keeping to the Mziza farming club. The club will share 5 beehives to start with, and expand later out of proceeds from selling honey. The benefits of beekeeping are threefold: first, there is the income from selling honey; second, the nutritional benefit of eating the honey; and third, the bees will help pollinate crops. Oh yes, and the farmers will be encourage to conserve their forests. And also, they may use the beeswax to make candles or soap. OK, so that was fivefold... and the benefits only get better as the farmers make more hives.

Mziza club members received their first hives on Tuesday. They had never seen the Kenyan Top Bar hive design, and thought it looked a lot better than their traditional hives, which consist of an overturned clay pot. They quickly went around hanging the hives in various strategic locations.

At the same time, AWP staff members were teaching them about how to monitor the hives for pests and overflowing honey.

The club should bring enough money to purchase one new hive for each one they harvest. 5 become 10 become 20, 40, 80... within about 18 months. The limiting factor is of course space to hang them. This is where forest conservation becomes worth doing, so to speak. Without growing their forests, the farmers cannot grow their collection of hives.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Windmill Water Pump


Wallace Storo and Custom Gabson now have another hand in pumping water. the long awaited windmill now pumps water 24/7, provided the wind blows strong enough of course.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Windmill construction

Top pics

Mr Storo harvests onions. He will use the profits to purchase fertilizer for his maize garden. He also plans to buy more onion seeds. His harvest brought in about $80, the seeds cost less than $2, and he used organic manure and compost to grown them.

Many other farmers are harvesting onions in the coming days. All are hopeful that the profits will help keep hunger at bay this season.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Meet The Staff

Here at AWP, we are constantly making a difference in the lives of others. Meet the people who make our vision a reality.

Chris Adare and his fiancé
Christopher Adare is currently serving as the International Director for AWP. Adare manages administrative duties, as well as designing and building water pumps, and implementing projects. 

Adare knows his calling to serve in Malawi came in 2006, when he spent the summer working at an orphanage in Kasungu, Malawi. After graduating from the University of Washington, Adare moved to Malawi where he worked with Children of the Nations, an orphan assistance organization. Adare believes his biggest challenge since moving to Malawi has been learning to be accepted. As an outsider, Adare has overcome prejudices and is now able to examine and change the way he treats other cultures. Adare says he has seen changes in the Malawian villages through his work with AWP and believes they are on the right track.

I would love people to be praying for my upcoming wedding; for the AWP staff to be effective in the community, and for peace, stability and security in the region.

John Fry
John Fry is a workshop assistant for AWP and helps set-up irrigation systems in local villages.

Fry grew up in Mtandire, Lilongwe, where he lived with his parents and three siblings. His father died at an early age and Fry was supported by an orphan assistance organization, Children of the Nations. COTN provided for Fry to go to school and upon completing his twelfth year, he began working for COTN. Before starting with AWP, Fry was a part-time builder. Fry considers AWP to be a blessing to Malawi and seeks to help villagers understand the importance of irrigation systems and how they work. 

Fry requests your prayers for his mother, who is unemployed, and siblings, who are still in school: I want them to do well so they can have good educations and good jobs.

Chaswezi Zulu Simwela is from the Katetele Village in northern Malawi. An Environmental Management Specialist & Partnership Coordinator for AWP, Simwela first begin working for AWP as a volunteer, before joining as staff full-time in November 2011. 

Growing up in a large family, Simwela understands first hand the difficulties Malawians are facing when it comes to providing for and raising a family. Simwela helped start Action for Behavior Change with Carol Maclean, an organization devoted to counseling youth, and was able to pull from his life experiences to mentor younger people. Simwela later attended school in Lilongwe, where he began working toward a degree in Sustainable Development. Simwela plans to go back to school and study for his Bachelors at the University of Livingstonia. “Working for AWP has opened my eyes to see beyond what farmers in rural communities are lacking. I believe I can become a strong and reliable bridge to help them achieve sustainable livelihoods if I ...attain higher education.” 

Under Simwela’s guidance, AWP has been able to partner with groups like Ukwe Extension Planning Area and Matindi Youth Organization, helping villages throughout southern Africa. 

Blessings Malamba and family
Blessings Malamba, one of thirty children, spent his childhood divided between his village and town. He worked at a local market during secondary school to pay for his education and later found a job as a dog handler. Malamba first became aware of AWP in 2010, when he met Chris Adare. Conscious of poverty and lack of water in Malawian villages, Malamba was eager to get involved with AWP and help his community. 

It is always my prayer to God [that] AWP should go in[to] many districts in Malawi so that Malawi can be transformed.

Wallace Storr and family
Wallace Storr works in the AWP demonstration gardens, irrigating and pumping to maintain the vegetation. Storr, a Malawian farmer, husband, and father of three, attended school through grade eight, before stopping because of school fees. 

Storr asks for prayers for AWP, his family and problems in the community. 

Custom Gabson and family
Custom Gabson has been working full-time for AWP since January 2012, primarily in the demonstration gardens alongside Wallace Storr. Before coming to AWP, Gabson worked for a farmer growing maize on the other side of Mziza, Chiwaza. Recently widowed, Gabson has three children, ages 10, 12 and 18.

Please keep Gabson in your prayers, that God will give him wisdom and grant his family peace.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Links to check out

Reading up on water consumption around the world... It's really interesting to note the differences across continents.

Water Conservation Worldwide: looking this site over, one might conclude that Africa is far-and-away the water conservation leader in the world. However, if that water consumption is insufficient to guarantee a healthy body and sufficient food supply, is it really worth admiring? Evidently not, judging by the popular view of water use in Africa. Where is the balance then between African water consumption and American?

American water consumption: so just how do Americans use that much water? Oddly enough, the figures on this site match pretty close with household consumption in Lilongwe's middle/upper class, from my experience.