Amon Lukhele – Malawi

Amon Lukhele – Malawi

Date: August 31, 2015
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Gender transformation and community development is the only way to go.

Gender Links (GL) and its interventions and the SADC Gender Protocol were mere rhetoric to me before 2013. At first I thought that women were not important in decision making. Through my relationship with GL I have learnt to reshape people’s consciousness and to redefine social relations to create a women-centered culture.

I involved women in the stewardship of natural resources. Women fetch water, fuel and other resources for the family, but they have no control over the resources. Women now participate in conserving the environment through environmentally friendly farming practices. They have learnt to ask for their rights, particularly through improved health, education, transportation and communication infrastructure.

I manage an organisation called Outreach Scout Foundation (OSF) which registered with the Malawi government in 2004 and the Council for NGOs in Malawi (CONGOMA) 2013. It is affiliated to the Human Rights Consultative Committee, GBV Prevention Network Malawi chapter, the Malawi NGO-Gender Coordinating Network, NGO Water Environment Sanitation Network and many others. Our vision is of a Malawi with well empowered young women and men working in development.

Before 2013 I was not competent enough to develop gender transformation and community development in my work, this was so because Gender Links was not known to me. My educational qualifications were not enough without Gender Links, although I possess a degree in Agriculture and Rural Development, 2006 and a Bachelor of Arts in Theology & Missions, 2014, I was still in the dark about what gender is all about.

Through Gender Links I managed and experienced various interventions. I have engaged women from faith communities to adopt practices that protect the environment in relation to climate change. I have mainstreamed gender in issues about climate change to empower communities on the use of new technology as a source of energy through briquette making. I have also advocated for women’s participation in decision making positions on climate change.

I have been involved in the development of the UNCRPD State of the Party Report and participated in harmonising the post 2015 Sustainable Development Goals with the inclusion of climate change. I have intensified the conduct of community interventions to build the capacity of women to be involved in the adaptation of climate change activities. I have empowered and built the capacity of community structures to enhance sustainable utilisation and management of their natural resource base and encouraged long-term food and energy security options.

I have introduced and promoted the use of both agro-forestry and non-forest based micro-enterprises; I have put in place measures at community level to combat soil erosion and deforestation/desertification through promoting agro-forestry and preventing woodland destruction. I have established bee keeping community groups where there is use of reforestation mechanisms through creation of new forestry. I have worked towards the establishment of water reservoirs and irrigation trenches to enhance production as another livelihood improvement strategy.

I managed the Women Empowerment on Climate Agriculture Economic project. The programme empowered women in agribusiness and fish farming through fish ponds as an income generating activity. The programme reached 200 women. I have managed to implement four climate change adaptation projects.

I have ensured that the organisation partners with Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (SAFCEI), Sanitation and Environmental Network. These networks promote climate change adaptation either at national or continental level. I have empowered communities to participate in fighting environmental degradation that will easily impact on climate change adaptation. I have encouraged communities in Mzimba to use crops that have the suitability and productivity for subsistence farmers to reduce poverty and have facilitated the registration of a cooperative in the community in the Mzimba district.

I have worked in partnership with Alliance One Tobacco Company to embark on tree planting to move towards addressing environmental degradation and have involved communities in planting more trees. The number planted by community members increased from 3,567 in the 2012 to 2013 planting season to 17, 357 in the 2014 to 2015 season. I work and collaborate with stakeholders with regard to forest and agriculture extension workers to inform communities on their roles in climate change adaptation. I have trained 70 community forestry patrol officers in the Mzimba district.

The paramount change in my life is the value of gender ethics at organisational, grassroots and national levels. Gender Links has changed my life through training and the summits from 2013 to 2015. I attended the Gender Mainstreaming Training Workshop in October 2014 in Lilongwe. The training was facilitated by Gender Links. The objectives were the understanding of the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development and other gender instruments at regional and international levels and it strengthened my understanding of the key gender planning concepts and development in the context of Malawi. It also strengthened my skills and knowledge of gender budgeting, gender mainstreaming and the SADC Gender Mainstreaming Toolkit. It also aimed to further develop relevant sections of the Action Plan of the National Gender Policy in reference to the SADC Protocol; to validate baseline data and set realistic targets and timeframes for activities proposed in the Action Plan; and develop cost estimates of these activities and present the 2014 Barometer findings and linkages with the alignment and costing exercise.

Through such training, I learnt to accommodate gender values in Outreach Scout Foundation. The organisation is also gender balanced in terms of staff as we have two males and three females. I have been able to uplift Ms. Isabel Chirwa to participate in the SADC Gender Summit in 2014 at national as well as regional levels. Isabel Chirwa was involved in the African Union, SADC Heads of States meetings in Lilongwe in 2013 and 2014 respectively. Now I have a keen interest in developing projects in gender transformation and budget response in Malawi.

Gender Links must take credit for changing my life and OSF’s status in participating in the national and regional summits from 2013 to date. In 2013 and 2014 I won awards at national level and presented my work in South Africa in the areas of climate change and economic empowerment of women. In 2015 I achieved runner up in two categories, namely economic justice and climate change. Gender Links trained me in gender mainstreaming and I am applying such trainings in the development of project proposals. OSF developed proposals for UN women, HIVOS and other to advance the agenda of Gender Links. Some of the proposals are made in partnership with JOURNAIDS. From 2013 to date Tarisai Nyamweda, Senior Media Programme Officer has been involved in transforming me through advice and assistance on best practices that would be showcased at national and regional levels. In Malawi, Emma Kaliya, Chairperson NGO Gender Coordination Network encouraged me to enter for the first time in 2013. At regional level Mrs. Colleen Lowe Morna, chief executive of Gender Links trained me in gender mainstreaming in Lilongwe in 2014.

My community’s perspective was that gender issues should be handled by women only because they could not understand what gender is all about. When they saw me receiving awards on gender and climate change and economic empowerment from 2013 to 2015 it transformed their views on gender concepts. My brothers at first showed a lot of resistance in accepting my engaging of communities in gender programming and interventions towards changing the lives of communities.

I have changed many people in my community by establishing community clubs and training community structures in implementing village saving banks. I have increased public awareness in the conservation and sustainable management of natural resources and the environment; increased knowledge and skills for the communities to effectively manage the natural forest and small-scale income generating activities and improved governance for local development structures in natural resource management. 327 households have benefited from the project through beekeeping and pig farming. I have trained 32 women, 17 men, 21 boys and 26 girls in beekeeping and business plans during the project. I have reached 56 women, 42 men, 37 boys and 38 girls during data collection for the project and 1,525 women, 1,177 men, 787 boys and 897 girls were reached during awareness campaigns on how to manage the already existing forest.

I have been involved in development of the Girls Education Strategy 2013/14, reviewing of Sustainable Development Goals 2014/2015, reviewing the 2014 National Human Development Report (NHDR), development of the alternative report on child rights to African Union and United Nations 2014/2015, the State of the Union Taskforce to analyse protocols and charters the Malawi government signed under the African Union 2014/2015. Gender Links helped me to use the knowledge gained in forums to include gender concepts in the development of such strategic documents.

Resources are needed to mobilise males and females in understanding the concept of gender equality. OSF also needs support technically and financially to implement gender transformative and community interventions in our catchment areas. We partnered with other organisations to find resources to implement gender interventions. For example OSF partnered with SAT through JOURNAIDS to implement gender transformative and community development in OSF catchment areas. As of now OSF employ seven (four female and three male) volunteers to collect data on gender transformative and community development mapping. I plan to implement a gender budget responsiveness project through OSF.
The key strategies are training, advocacy and awareness raising in gender-responsive budgeting for addressing violence against women. The key stakeholders, CSOs, women and girls and other primary beneficiaries will be trained in gender responsive budgeting to end violence against women. The training will enhance the capacity of the relevant stakeholders to be able to lobby and influence gender responsive budgeting, policy and planning processes vital in enhancing the response to violence against women.

The country has many laws and policies related to addressing violence against women. However most of the legislation such as the 2006 Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, National Gender Policy and MDG Acceleration Framework (MAF) is not being effectively monitored in terms of implementation. The project seeks to engage stakeholders in policy advocacy to lobby for increased resources and ensure that policy legal frameworks are effective in ending violence against women (VAW) by also advocating for gender responsive budgeting.

The project will seek to raise awareness on the importance of investing in gender responsive budgeting by making sure that Gender Focal Persons are aware of their roles of promoting gender responsiveness in programming and budgeting within government line ministries. The project will raise awareness on the need to strengthen the response on violence against women by creating awareness amongst policy decision makers, budget planners and officers in relevant government line ministries to improve budget formulation processes.

Lack of inclusiveness in the district planning and budgeting processes is a threat to good governance. There is a lack of transparency and accountability on the use of government resources. Further, a huge percentage of the district budget allocation is on emoluments and very little for development activities. This has stalled development processes in all sectors including low quality education, poor service delivery by the health sector, low implementation of community development and social welfare programmes to mention a few.


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