The Amalima program, started in June of 2013 and scheduled to close in June of 2020, draws its name from the Ndebele word for the social contract by which families come together to help each other engage in productive activities such as land cultivation, livestock tending, and asset building. Amalima builds on existing communal initiatives in order to sustainably improve household food security and nutrition by strengthening access to and availability of food, community resilience to shocks, and nutrition and health among mothers and children in the districts of Tsholotsho (Matabeleland North), Bulilima, Gwanda and Mangwe (Matabeleland South). In order to achieve this objective, Amalima fosters women’s empowerment and gender equality as a crosscutting component to the program that underpins all activities.
The five-year, USAID Development Food Assistance Program (DFAP) will work with over 56,000 households, leveraging community-led approaches to increase agricultural productivity through conservation agriculture and livestock management trainings, land rehabilitation, water management, improved drought mitigation and adaptation. In addition, the project will enhance nutrition care practices and health-seeking behaviors by providing a combination of capacity building, training and mentoring, supplementary feeding rations and community-based messaging to achieve its expected results.
- Improve access to, and availability of food: As part of its overall strategy for addressing food insecurity, Amalima promotes a shift from traditional maize cultivation to more drought tolerant small grain crops, conservation agriculture practices, and livestock production. Amalima emphasizes practical demonstrations to encourage adoption of improved agriculture and livestock production practices for the arid and drought-prone agro-ecological zones in which the project works. In addition to training, Amalima engages vulnerable households and communities into productive value chains using household asset vouchers to purchase productive assets such as goats and inputs, and utilizes matching grants to help producer groups scale-up production. This includes business management and technical training to agrodealers to improve the availability of and access to quality agro and veterinary inputs to farmers.
- Strengthen community resilience to shocks: Amalima partners with communities to improve livelihoods and build resilience by creating and/or strengthening disaster risk reduction (DRR) committees. The project supports community DRR plans with Cash for Assets activities that result in productive resources such as rehabilitated or new irrigation schemes, dip tanks, dams, and reclaimed land, and act as a strategy to get vital cash in the hands of vulnerable households. Amalima forms and supports village savings and lending (VS&L) groups to promote income generating activities and savings to build household resiliency. VS&L groups are trained to invest their savings in group enterprises such as poultry production, bee keeping, and sewing, which support livelihoods and increase savings.
- Improve nutrition and health: Amalima improves the dietary diversity and micro-nutrient intake of pregnant and lactating women and children under two by distributing supplementary feeding rations of corn-soy blend (CSB+) and fortified vegetable oil, while simultaneously enhancing nutrition care practices with a combination of capacity building, mentoring, and community-based messaging delivered through care groups and community health clubs. Through these groups, Amalima also encourages improved Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) practices such as the promotion of water purification technologies, proper hand washing, rehabilitation of water points at primary health clinics, and creation and training of community health clubs.
- Promote gender equality: Amalima fosters women’s empowerment and gender equality, seeking to empower women to play a key role in food security and resiliency at the household and community levels. The project leverages the social capital of Amalima collective action (most often applied by women) and builds on strong, trust-based relationships between women to promote improved practices, such as exclusive breastfeeding, Healthy Harvest community gardens, and VS&L groups. To support male inclusion, efforts are made to integrate men into health and nutrition outreach activities to encourage their increased support in household and child rearing activities. Amalima women’s groups, such as VS&L and Community Health Clubs, often decide to leverage their social and financial capital by expanding their objective to include income generating or productive activities (e.g. poultry production, horticulture garden). Through these efforts, Amalima supports women to have increased access to and control over incomes, and promote men and women to take increasingly equal responsibilities for both productive and reproductive activities.