Welcome to Malawi, a landlocked country in southeastern Africa. Gifted with spectacular highlands and extensive lakes, it occupies a narrow, curving strip of land along the East African Rift Valley.
Last December, we met Madalitso Lazaro, the director of Youth and Women for Development Initiatives (YAWDI) a non-governmental organization that assists vulnerable communities in the southern region of Zomba.
This time, we are using our platform not only to spread #goodnews but also to bring light to some of our change-makers’ specific needs. The Covid crisis has impacted YAWDI’s activities and demanded emergency responses that were not foreseen.
With this article we hope new ideas could emerge for YAWDI so that this organization will be able to keep helping all Malawians in need.
By Madalitso Lazaro and Maria Rodas
According to the World Bank, Malawi remains one of the poorest countries in the world despite making significant economic and structural reforms to sustain economic growth. The economy is heavily dependent on agriculture, employing nearly 80% of its 18 million population, and it is vulnerable to external shocks, particularly climatic.
Malawi has made progress in building its human capital (the knowledge, skills and health that people accumulate over their lives) in recent years. However, inequality and poverty, driven by a low productivity in the agriculture sector and limited opportunities in non-farm activities, remain high.
Youth and Women for Development Initiatives (YAWDI) is a non-governmental, non-profit, non-political and non-religious organization. It was established in 2014 and registered as a community-based organization in 2016, thereafter reregistered as a full organization which can operate everywhere in Malawi in 2018.
It was founded by a group of development professionals that aimed to empower vulnerable, poor and disadvantaged communities in both remote villages of Malawi through health, education, agriculture and livelihood support programs.
YAWDI aims to break the cycle of poverty and enable communities to be self-reliant for the future.
YAWDI's board of directors
After registered as a full organization, YAWDI Malawi has been operating with funds coming from the local government, well-wishers, international partners, and also from its income generating activities. YAWDI has a technical college in Malosa and also does group microfinance with small interest rates among youth and women.
At an operational level, YAWDI is currently working with the government of Malawi, and some other non-profit European and North-American organizations.
YAWDI intervenes in many sectors as it defends a holistic approach of development. They currently implement projects in education health, agriculture, tourism, and want to develop and strengthen their social entrepreneurship programs.
YAWDI works closely with community leaders to better identify beneficiaries and with local authorities in order to ensure proper monitoring, transparency and accountability of the projects.
The current challenges
During this crisis, YAWDI has deployed emergency actions in two areas: a communication campaign to diffuse Covid-related information; and a sanitary equipment distribution campaign to bring hygiene products such as masks and soap to communities in need. The main problems they are facing right now are related to transportation and financial support. The organization works with isolated communities where people have less access to information (no television, no radio, no internet…) and health supplies.
Madalitso Lazaro (to the left) with one of YAWDI's directors
YAWDI reached to us because they are seeking support to strengthen their social entrepreneurship programs. For the moment, they are developing a microfinance project that supports the creation of small businesses and income-generating activities led by women.
YAWDI is looking for new partnerships to bring added value to its existing projects and develop new ones mainly in the field of agriculture and livestock. They are calling out for organizations, social businesses, or professional consultants willing to share their skills and knowledge to help them move forward.
Here at Connexio World we believe in building bridges to connect people, to imagine new ideas and to create new opportunities. We created The Shaker precisely for this purpose: an open blog where our change-makers can share their projects, needs and experience, so we can all #ConnectToChange!
You can contact them here.