For the past 5 months, our Climate Smart Agriculture community coordinators have been working with farmers in Dowa district; teaching them sustainable techniques to increase agricultural production whilst at the same time mitigating and adapting to climate change. How this project will have an impact on the farmers’ livelihoods can be best told by the farmers themselves and that is why participatory video is being used for monitoring and evaluation. In April, the coordinators were trained in participatory video facilitation by Sabine Hellmann of Climate Futures. Using the skills they gained in that training, the coordinators spent August and September guiding farmers through the video making process. In order to help the coordinators with the editing of the films made, and give a refresher on PV facilitation, last week, Sabine was back in Malawi to hold a workshop for the coordinators at our Mponela field office in Dowa.
The main objective of the weeklong workshop was to refresh the coordinators’ understanding of PV and to teach them new skills. Coordinators were also able to share their experiences working in the communities and discuss what worked well and what did not. And, with guidance from Sabine, the coordinators went through all the farmers’ footage and edited one story.
In addition to the refresher course, coordinators were able to share the work they have been doing with the farmers on the ground, with one of our grant partners from Climate Futures, Charles Henderson, in from Scotland for a short trip. Together with Molly Cheatum, Charlie, Sabine, the coordinators and I visited some farmers in Dzoole and Madzimayela communities. Temwanani Gondwe, our community coordinator in Dzoole took us around the community where we met with farmers and saw their field and home gardens. In Madzimayela and surrounding villages, we were led by Joel Nkhwentchela who also showed us different fields where farmers have started practicing climate smart agriculture, and how they are using space around their home by planting home gardens. They also toured Kalonga village and other surrounding communities, where Vincent Makiyi showed how the farmers are using the CSA technologies like mulching and intercropping. Bananas that the farmers had received from Kusamala have been integrated into farmers’ grey water systems, and are being used to manage water running off from boreholes. It is encouraging to see these farmers embracing alternative ways of farming, as research is showing that the conventional ways are failing to suffice the livelihoods needs of farmers, both nutritional and economic.