Richard Katete, 49, has lived his whole life longing to own a bicycle to ease his mobility challenges as he strives to fend for his family.
He is a tobacco farmer from Ngwangwa Village, Traditional Authority (T/A) Kabudula in Lilongwe.
Katete said the little he realises from tobacco sales has for years not been enough to fulfil his long-awaited wish.
But today he is a proud owner of a bicycle and a goat thanks to the National Local Government Finance Committee (NLGFC) which is implementing the Enhanced Public Works Programme (EPWP) in 10 pilot districts to address food insecurity, poverty and land degradation, among others.
In an interview Katete, who is a beneficiary of EPWP, said the project has enabled him to own the bicycle and the goat which would have taken him years to achieve.
“The day I got this bicycle was like a dream to me. Ask my wife and the kids, they will tell you how excited I was when I brought the bicycle home. It was a dream come true and I am a happy man,” he recalled.
Katete said when he learnt that his name was on the list of beneficiaries, he sat down with the wife and planned what they wanted to do with the money he would be getting and two things came top, a bicycle and a goat.
He added: “We made sure that nothing distracted our plans and here we are today patting ourselves on the back that our plans have been fulfilled.
“If not for the EPWP, it would have taken us two years to acquire a bicycle and probably another year to buy a goat. But here we are, within six months we have managed to live our dream.”
According to Katete, the bicycle would ease his mobility challenges especially when he wants to attend the village and savings loan (VSL) meetings.
“There are times when I have a little something to save but I can’t travel because the meetings are held far from home.”
“I mostly end up spending the money instead of saving it. Now with this bicycle, I will be able to travel every day of the meeting which will in turn allow me to make more savings than I used to,” he said.
The father of five revealed plans to rent out the bicycle to fellow community members to generate income for his household use.
He also hopes that soon his goat would reproduce and he would sale some offsprings to support his oldest son who is planning to go to college.
NLGFC district liaison officer, Thandie Sukali said under the EPWP, Lilongwe has five micro catchment areas and it was fulfilling to see that the sub-projects identified in catchment areas were improving livelihoods while conserving the environment.
She said a visit to all the catchment areas has revealed how passionate people are for the project because it is transforming their lives.
“I am impressed and so much moved that lives are being transformed through this project. We have also learnt that the project has helped the beneficiaries to develop more business ideas so that it doesn’t break their circle of income generating even in the absence of the project.”
“For example, we have seen the Katete family acquiring a bicycle which they intend to hire out and generate more income. This is inspiring to other community members and we hope to see a lot of transformation,” Sukali pointed out.
EPWP interventions relates to climate smart agriculture, water and natural resources management and environmental conservation.
The EPWP is a programme under the extended phase of Malawi Social Action Fund (Masaf) IV project replacing the regular public works programme.