By Zubeda Karim, Institutional Funding & Partnerships Manager & Basia Benda, Programme Manager
Programme visits are one of the highlights of our work – getting to see the work in action, meeting the community members first hand and working closely with all programme partners to continue to learn more and improve our projects.
We recently visited Malawi, where we were able to see the MAZIKO programme (run in partnership with the local government, GiveDirectly and Save the Children) in action for the first time. The trip included two days of community visits, as well as meetings with district and national government officials and debriefs with our partners.
The highlight of the trip, not surprisingly, was the community visits. It was so great to see the implementation of a multi-sectoral approach live from the field as opposed to only reading about it in reports. The enthusiasm from the villages was also fantastic to witness, especially their willingness to adopt and implement practices taught to them through Save’s interventions (such as awareness of diet diversity and making adjustments in how they cook their food to increase its nutritional value, interacting with babies and toddlers for their early years development and installing makeshift tippy taps to promote hygiene).
The feedback from the district and national governments on the programme was overall very positive. They acknowledged that malnutrition is still a big challenge in Malawi and it’s clear the work could be expanded from the current two districts to beyond in Malawi. A large component of the programme (see overview below) is research, which will be critical as we look for new funding opportunities to support an expansion. Requests were made to expand the geographical reach and duration of the programme.
About the MAZIKO programme
MAZIKO (meaning “Foundation” in Chichewa), is a five-year project that integrates maternal and child grants (cash transfers) with a package of government recommended social and behaviour change and capacity strengthening interventions to improve child nutrition and development. The project was launched in November 2021 and is reaching nearly 42,000 households with pregnant women and children under five, in Ntcheu and Balaka districts in Malawi. It includes a large research component led by IFPRI, including a cluster randomized trial to evaluate the impact, cost effectiveness, and scalability of maternal and child grants, delivered alongside an integrated multi-sector social and behaviour change intervention package to address the main drivers of malnutrition. The evidence generated will inform Malawi’s National Social Protection system, and guide improvements to the delivery of Malawi’s multi-sector nutrition strategy.
The programme is being implemented by Save the Children (consortium lead) along with GiveDirectly. More on the programme here: MAZIKO – Malawi Integrated Maternal and Child Grant Project | Save the Children’s Resource Centre.
We met Margaret who has been receiving cash transfer since January. She shared how life is very difficult, but with the transfers she can buy household necessities which she wasn’t able to buy before. She can now afford school books, uniform and maize, which is her food.
“Money will always be an issue but there is a big difference between how stressed I was then and how stressed I am now. People now say I am getting fatter – whereas before it was that I was getting thinner!!”
As we near the mid-way completion of MAZIKO, we can proudly reflect on the impact the programme has already demonstrated. Whilst we will continue to implement the programme activities, we are also committed to working together with the district offices and national government and strengthen their capacity to ensure continuity of interventions beyond the life-cycle of the programme. This is essential for Malawi’s long-term policy development that will be further guided by the results of the research conducted by IFPRI.
We left the country with renewed vigour and passion to do more and help people who are in need of essential nutrition and other services but also a bit sad as we did not have the time to explore the country’s magnificent wildlife!