The project leverages community and market-led approaches to increase and diversify the incomes of vulnerable households by improving access to water resource, enhancing agricultural production and productivity, strengthening disaster risk reduction systems, and improving linkages to markets and financial services. The project also improves feeding and care practices for new mothers and children under the age of two, improves the dietary diversity and quality of foods consumed by the entire household, and supports the integration of nutrition into health care service delivery.
Strategic Objective 1
Access to water, inputs and other productive assets is a key limiting factor for food production and livelihoods in Amalima’s project areas. Amalima addresses these challenges through various approaches, focusing on sustainability and community-led solutions. Amalima has invested in the construction and rehabilitation of dams and installed water systems (including solarized) across its four districts and promoted the management and maintenance of these assets for agriculture and livestock production. Amalima has organized and promoted input fairs to facilitate relationships between agro-dealers, input suppliers, and farming individuals and businesses, to increase agriculture (including livestock) production and marketing. Conservation Agriculture training has encouraged the adoption of geographically appropriate, small grain cereal and legume varieties, and sustainable production practices to maximize yields and reduce drought risk. Amalima’s Household Asset Voucher (HHAV) program provides farmers’ access to a variety of agriculture inputs (stock feeds, veterinary medicines, agricultural equipment, and small grain seeds) at both subsidized and full prices, to promote inclusive adoption of improved agricultural practices and drought tolerant crops. The Amalima program promoted local economic growth and income generating opportunities through the matching grants program which provided small grants to scale up groups’ enterprises, and by supporting community groups, such as VS&L groups, to invest their resources in productive activities such as poultry production, livestock fattening, and livestock breed improvement.
Strategic Objective 2
Amalima supported the creation and rehabilitation of infrastructures including dams for livestock watering and irrigation, community gardens, and grazing lands to improve the communities’ resilience to economic and climatic shocks and stresses. These assets were selected from the community’s own Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) plans, which were a key output of Amalima’s training in hazard identification, mapping, planning and mitigation. The program applied a robust Village Savings and Lending approach to finance household, group and community initiatives, to reduce vulnerability to shocks and stresses.
Strategic Objective 3
Amalima has improved feeding and care practices for over 37,400 households through care groups, community health clubs, health and nutrition integration meetings, and trainings on participatory health and hygiene. Amalima promoted household consumption of nutritious and locally diverse available foods by training mothers in care groups and community health clubs, and developing a recipe book. Amalima has improved the health and nutrition of pregnant and lactating women and children under two, with supplementary food rations comprised of corn soy blend + and fortified vegetable oil. Amalima has also supported the integration of nutrition into health care service delivery at local health clinics.
Amalima’s gender and youth activities were informed by an in-depth gender analysis and formative research studies that were conducted at the beginning of the program and which informed the gender strategy. The gender strategy was rooted in understanding the social and behavioral dynamics and barriers at play both within the household as well as within the broader community, especially as these dynamics impacted food consumption, health seeking behavior, household labor roles, productive and reproductive decision making, and economic participation.
The Amalima program’s gender, youth, and social dynamics strategy was effective in empowering women and youth. The program promoted the participation of both men and women including young men and young women (18 – 35) in all program interventions: promoting sharing household workload, promoting access to labor saving technologies for women, promoting access to and control over resources and assets by women, promoting joint decision making over use of resources and income, and promoting peaceful homes free from all forms of gender based violence. This was accomplished in part, by the formation of groups of men called “Male Champions”. These groups used SBC messaging to reach and inform fathers about their roles in improving children’s nutrition and was successful in increasing male participation in household duties. In FY19, over 67% of Amalima project participants were women.
From FY18 to FY19, Amalima organized community events called “Amalima Days” that were supposed to motivate stakeholders and Amalima participants in continuing their activities after the program ended. These events featured songs, dance, and poems presented by Amalima volunteers and groups. VS&L groups used the events to display products for people to buy, including vegetables, grains, and baskets. Input suppliers displayed and sold inputs including, seeds, agro-chemicals, plows, and plow accessories. Amalima also recognized the hard work of Amalima volunteers and community groups by issuing certificates of recognition and prizes to the most active Amalima participants. Staff from AGRITEX, Department of Veterinary Services, Ministry of Health and Child Care, and Ministry of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprise Development, and Rural District Councils all participated in the Amalima Days. Amalima staff, community leaders, and government stakeholders gave speeches about the impact of Amalima interventions and the need for continuing the activities without the support of the Amalima program.
In FY19, Amalima days were led by the communities with the support of relevant government stakeholders, and private sector actors such as input suppliers, K2, National Tested Seed, Farm and City, Country Feeds, and Zimplow, that donated prizes. In FY19, they donated 10 ox-drawn ploughs, 1 ton of stock feed, 10 shovels, 23 knapsack sprayers, 10 plough shares, 3 wheelbarrows, 230kg of maize and sorghum seed, and 40 packs of horticulture seeds worth altogether a value of $2,955 USD. The success of Amalima Days and the full ownership of them demonstrates the strong linkages that Amalima has established between farmers and the private sector, which is anticipated to continue after the program ends.
As part of its stunting prevention activities, and aligned with the 1,000 day approach, the Amalima program provides supplementary feeding for pregnant and lactating women and children ages 6–23 months. The program distributed a monthly food ration to 59 health centers and 28 secondary food distribution points.
Pregnant and lactating women receive a supplementary ration of 5.5 kgs of corn soy blend plus (CSB+) and 1.5 liters of fortified vegetable oil. Children under two receive 3 kgs of CSB+ and 1 liter of oil. CSB+ and fortified vegetable oil are nutrient dense foods that contribute towards the caloric and micronutrient requirements of pregnant and lactating women (on average require 2,300 to 2,500kcal per day – depending also on level of activity and other factors so the ration provides about 44-48% of daily caloric requirements), and young children (on average require 1,000 to 1,400 calories per day depending on activity level and other factors so the ration will provide about 47% to 66% of caloric requirements).
Food ration distribution is complemented by the Amalima and health center staff promoting positive health-seeking behaviors, and provision of infant growth monitoring and other key health services (Ante-natal services, Immunization/vaccination services, Vitamin A supplement) for mothers and caregivers. As part of pre-distribution messaging, care group members share key infant and young child feeding messages using drama and song. Ministry of Health and Child Care staff take advantage of the distribution platform to share important health messages on topics such as immunization with mothers and caregivers. The messaging at food distributions also encourage mothers and caregivers to participate in other key Amalima activities such as care groups, community health clubs, Village Savings and Lending groups, and horticulture activities.
Due to the drought, Amalima also distributed a protective ration of 10kg sorghum, 3.3kg pulses (lentils, pinto beans or peas) and 1L of fortified vegetable oil during the lean seasons in 2016 and 2017. The protective ration was distributed to households already receiving the supplementary feeding ration. The rationale for this intervention was based on observed evidence of increased ration sharing within the household during times of greater food scarcity.
On March 30, 2020, Zimbabwe imposed a nationwide lockdown to contain the spread of the coronavirus infection (COVID 19). On May 16th, President Emmerson Mnangagwa issued a statement noting that the lockdown would be extended indefinitely, and the restrictions would be reviewed every two weeks. Under the lockdown, all persons were to remain at home unless they were buying essential medicine or food, and businesses, unless involved in manufacturing, supplying, or providing essential goods or services, were to remain closed.
To support the Government of Zimbabwe and its relevant ministries in raising awareness about COVID 19, Amalima communicated to its communities in Tsholotsho, Bulilima, Mangwe, and Gwanda, on preventative measures individuals and households should take to reduce the spread of the infection and stay healthy. In March 2020, Amalima helped develop COVID 19 flyers and posters in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC).
In April 2020, Amalima distributed 93,000 flyers and 11,000 posters with COVID 19 preventative messaging in three (English, isiNdebele, Shona) languages and an audio message drama in isiNdebele, to its four districts and in Bulawayo. Flyers and posters were given to other organizations including World Food Program (WFP), World Health Organization (WHO), Catholic Relief Service, CARE, Organization for Public Health Interventions and Development (OPHID) , SOS Zimbabwe, and the MoHCC Harare and Bulawayo.
Within Amalima’s districts, the District field offices delivered flyers and posters at local health centers like clinics and district hospitals, and business centers where those seeking health care treatment could find the materials. Posters were also delivered to high foot traffic and transit areas so that crowds could read and get informed. The audio message drama produced by Amalima was disseminated to its WhatsApp network in the field.