In 2017, Derick Mapanga received four pigs from Plan International Malawi—a boar and three gilts.
He was among 164 people in Kakungu Village, Traditional Authority Njewa in Lilongwe who received various livestock. Forty farmers received four pigs each, another 40 got goats while 84 received chickens.
To ensure sustainability, the recipients had to passon the kids to have-nots in subsequent years.
“When the livestock gives birth, the offspring remains with the farmer while the mother goes to the next beneficiary. This technique has allowed more people in my community to own livestock,” explains Mapanga
The initiative is one of Plan’s interventions to build the resilience and livelihoods of communities hit hard by climate-related change and disasters, including floods and drought.
Njewa area has been hugely hit by harsh effects of climate change, disrupting livelihoods and making families too poor to keep girls in school as they hardly harvest enough to feed themselves to the next harvesting season.
Girls are the most vulnerable when households struggle with hunger and poverty.
Mapanga says the project has transformed his life and household in ways he never imagined three years ago.
Today, he owns a fully-fledged piggery comprising 25 pigs. Mapanga. Through this, he supports his family.
“When I sell the livestock or products, I make enough money to take care of my family,” he says.
The pigs, which also produce manure for his barren crop field, have put smiles on the faces of his children, including a girl currently in Form One at Mpando Secondary School.
“Because of livestock farming, I can provide for my children. One of my daughters never lacks anything to support her education. When I need money, I sell a pig to pay her school fees or buy her clothes and learning materials,” says the livestock farmer.
Mapanga next goal is to roof his grass-thatched house with iron sheets by December.
What started as a handout has turned into a stable source of income for Kakungu community. The manure from livestock waste is improving their crop yield.
“From the pigs, I get manure for my garden. Sometimes we mix the droppings with a little chemical fertiliser which is too expensive. Now we enjoy bumper harvests,” Mapanga says.
Divas Sulungwa, an agricultural extension worker responsible for livestock in the area, acknowledges the diverse benefits farmers are deriving from livestock.
He says there has been an improvement in the economic and nutrition status of the farming community, saying the animals help them address challenges resulting from degraded soils and climate shocks.
“The community uses the manure from these animals to restore soil fertility in the fields. The situation was very bad before 2014. Since there were no trees, soil erosion was rampant and the soils were degraded. This affected crop production. But now they utilize this livestock farming to address such challenges,” Sulungwa says.
The distribution of livestock in the area was one of Plan’s Climate Change and Adaptation interventions. The project, rolled out in 2014, seeks to build resilience and sustainable livelihoods of the people affected by climate change.
According to project manager Billy Mukwikwi, the project follows the realisation that causes and aftermaths of climate change were multifaceted.
He says the provision of livestock has played a central role in addressing setbacks faced by young women and girls. He states:
By enhancing agricultural productivity through the manure and enhancing income generation through direct sales of animals, some girls and young women are no longer vulnerable to economic hardships that affect their lives and rights.
Mukwikwi states: “Climate change negatively affects agricultural productivity and consequently the household income and the community. Hunger exposes girls and young women to risky behaviour and sex for money. Parents tend to marry them off in exchange for financial support.
“From the livestock, the community is producing enough food because the manure is improving the soils. They also generate income after selling some livestock, thereby stabilising livelihoods. They can now afford basic needs, which means girls and young women are less vulnerable to such things as early marriages.”
Mapanga states that the provision of livestock to the Kakungu community was like killing two birds with one stone.
The community enjoys an upturn in income fortunes by selling the animals, the manure from the same animals have improved soil in the fields and restored agricultural productivity in the area.