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C Track – A Viable Solution to Eradicating Preventable Road Accidents in Malawi

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The recent spate of accidents in the country has gripped people with fear over travel safety.

Family and friends have to rely on prayer when their loved ones take trips as they are never sure whether they will arrive alive due to so many accidents being reported across the nation.

Parliament has recently taken up the road safety issue, seeking solutions on how to reduce road accidents. In the meanwhile, until such a panacea is found, people have to travel – a dangerous entrapment which the people cannot avoid as they have to go to work, visit family, businesses, and attend funerals among other reasons.

A visit to Lilongwe Bus depot is a true testimony of the death traps masquerading as buses. Most of them are not road worthy but people clam into them just to get where they are going.

 Not only are the buses the reason to be worried when one is traveling, everything on the roads these days is gateway to an untimely demise.

Take for example the truck which hurled other vehicles in Blantyre over faulty brakes.

While Parliament and stakeholders try to find ways to eliminate these tragic deaths the answer to having a peace of mind that you or your family, friends will arrive safe and sound is with C-Track.

Imagine a vehicle which is being monitored 24/7: everything from brakes, idling, acceleration, location, movements, mileage, when service is due and whether there is a fault with the car. This saves both lives, property and cost of repairs.

C-Track has real-time data on this and much more; including how fast the driver is traveling, and better still they are able to contact the driver for alerts and any problems that may develop on the road before any tragic incidents may take place.

For long route travel owners, being able to view your vehicle’s status, movements and trips on any of your devices in real time, as well as an electronic logbook, no-go area alerts is a plus.

C TRACK gives you access to live tracking information and driver behavior monitoring.

Prevention of road accidents is of great concern to every member of society and needs to be addressed swiftly by having incident alerts and alarms.

For ongoing safety and security, C-TRACK alerts you when detecting battery tampers, high g-force incident alarms or rollovers, and even when your vehicles approach a country’s border – allowing you to manage by exception.

Drivers can also raise an alarm through a remote or wired panic button, or by simply pressing an e-panic button on their mobile phone.

If only bus owners, companies, government and other stakeholders engage CTRACK, road accidents can be minimized.

The solution to tragic accidents in the nation is also in the hands of the passengers. Cars fitted with C-TRACK logo at bus terminals will be a great way to have surety that you are safe and will arrive alive.

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Commentary

Pride of Lake Chiuta

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It is Monday morning and the weather around the shores of Lake Chiuta in Machinga is extremely cold. At this time, the comfort of a continued sleep is so tempting to many people in the area except for one man: Scott Steven.

Considering the huge responsibility of providing for his wife and eight children, Steven wakes up and walks into the chilling weather on his way to the lake. The 45-year-old is a fisher and every day he covers a distance that takes him an hour from home to the lake.

Sadly on this day, he returns home empty-handed as there is no catch. Fish stocks are dwindling in the lake due to decreasing water levels.

A week later, Lake Chiuta goes completely dry. Steven has no source of livelihood and he migrates to Mozambique to look for other means of survival.

The move to Mozambique destabilises his family as he ends up marrying another wife there.

Steven is just an example of many people in Machinga who were greatly affected by the drying up of Lake Chiuta in 2016, with reports indicating that several men migrated to Mozambique in search of alternative means of generating income.

“My family back home suffered a lot because I ended up starting a new family in Mozambique where I have one child,” Steven says.

But now he is back to Machinga as Lake Chiuta slowly recovers. Steven plans to continue fishing while exploring other means of livelihood.

“The lake is becoming unreliable. I have learnt a lot from last year’s experience,” he says.

The drying of Lake Chiuta in 2016 was mainly attributed to insufficient rains that Machinga and the whole country received.

Eluby Kacholola, a Fish Technician for Lake Chiuta, says the lake needs about 580-680 millimetres of rains annually.

But in the past two to three years, rainfall amounts have been too low to meet the required capacity, according to the Meteorological Department.

Available figures show that the lake received 270mm of rains in 2015/16 season.

“This amount was too low to sustain desired water levels. This affected fishing activity because it was not possible to get even a single dozen of fish catch. When the lake has enough water, a fisher can catch up to five dozens,” says Kacholola, adding that out of 16 beaches along the lake, only one was active but operating at low capacity.

She attributes the drying up of the lake to erratic rainfall patterns induced by climate change-related factors.

According to Kacholola, the rains have been good this year resulting in an upsurge of water levels in the lake to about 80-95 percent.

To ensure that the lake remains in good shape and that the livelihood of communities along Chiuta is sustained, a number of players are undertaking measures to save the lake.

One such player is an organisation called Pact which, in partnership with Department of Fisheries, is implementing a five-year Fisheries Integration of Society and Habitats (Fish) project with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

Dick Kachilonda is Governance and Capacity Development Specialist for Fish project. He says the project aims at intensifying capacity building of communities in lake management considering a crucial role the water body plays in people’s lives.

According to Kachilonda, the primary objectives of Fish are to increase resilience to climate change and improve biodiversity conservation through effective sustainable fisheries co-management through adoption of evidence-based best practices.

“Proper management of Chiuta’s ecosystem is expected to improve the lives of many households relying on the lake for nutrition and income,” he says.

Fish project is also being implemented in other three freshwater ecosystems of lakes Malawi, Malombe and Chilwa, with Mangochi, Balaka, Machinga and Zomba as target areas.

In communities along Lake Chiuta, the project is encouraging people to venture into different businesses as an alternative to fishing. The initiatives include investing capital raised from their fishing business in village saving groups; planting more trees around the lake and practising climate change agriculture to conserve the lake.

Chief Fisheries Research Officer in the Department of Fisheries Moffat Manase says these initiatives should help communities surrounding the lake to minimise over-relying on the water body for their livelihood.

He adds that the 2016 scenario should serve as a lesson.

“The future of the lake is not certain. It can be bright if the current restoration yield desired results and it can be gloomy if communities and stakeholders fail to sustain current efforts,” says Manase.

He says the fish sector remains a productive industry that can make significant contribution to the country’s gross domestic product.

It is estimated that between 2015 and 2016, the sector contributed K16.5 billion to the country’s economy.

Apart from providing the large amount of annual animal protein intake by the population, the fishing industry in Malawi employs hundreds of people including Steven.

Sadly, fish stocks in lakes and rivers of the country are decreasing at a fast rate. Overfishing is said to be a major factor with most fishers flouting regulations related to fish management like bans on fishing during breeding season and use of illegal fishing gear.

Most people like Steven say they overfish because they lack alternative means of earning a living. But there are high hopes that initiatives promoted by Fish project will minimise people’s overreliance on fishing and save the pride that is returning to the lake’s ecosystem.-MANA

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AgricultureCommentaryLatest News

Read how donors like UKaid are helping 683 000 people to have maize vouchers

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Victoria Jameson, 63, can support her family of three thanks to the monthly maize voucher she receives from WFP.

The rural community of Blantyre was hard hit by the 2015/2016 El Niño-induced drought which ruined harvests across Malawi and much of the region.

In late 2016, Victoria Jameson, 63, and many of her neighbours found that — as a result of the drought — there simply was not enough food on the local markets.

The World Food Programme (WFP) has been supporting people in Blantyre and other hard-pressed communities through a voucher system which provides maize to the most vulnerable. 

This has brought tremendous relief as, for the last 10 months, the food security of nearly 40 percent of Malawians.
WFP is offering a combination of vouchers, which provide a month’s supply of maize and shelter beneficiaries from fluctuations in the price of this staple, and cash, which allows them to diversify their diets by purchasing meat, fruit and vegetables. 

WFP also provides families with pulses, vegetable oil and blended food for pregnant and breastfeeding women with children under the age of 2.

“Through the voucher, we receive enough maize to last my family for the month,” says Victoria, who is the sole provider in her household of three.

Thanks to donors including UKaid, WFP has been able to reach almost six million people with in-kind and voucher assistance in the first quarter of 2017. Photos: WFP/Cheulekene Mita
Since a drought emergency was declared for Malawi in June 2016, WFP has been able to assist people like Victoria thanks to generous contributions from donors including UKaid.

The operation started in the worst-hit districts and was progressively widened to reach out to more people in need. In the first quarter of 2017, WFP has reached some 683,000 people a month with vouchers while 5.3 million were reached with in-kind food assistance.

This programme has had a significant impact on the lives of people who would otherwise not have been able to afford to buy maize and other food. 

WFP is also negotiating partnerships with vendors in the private sector to supply the increased demand for maize which has been created by the voucher system.

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Commentary

“It’s 18! What’s next to stop child marriage?

Chimwemwe-Manyozo

On Valentine’s day this year, Malawi’s national assembly passed a bill that called for the Constitution to raise the marriage age with parental consent from 15 to 18 years. Chimwemwe Manyozo, 27, a Correspondent from Lilongwe, Malawi, reports that the news was received with excitement, especially from activists and youth.

One of the leaders in the fight against child marriages, Mada Mondiwa, wrote the following message on her Facebook page:

‘A few months ago, I wrote an article in the newspaper arguing for more youth agency in development initiatives…specifically I described 12 incredible young people I’ve been privileged to train, mentor and work alongside in an advocacy initiative seeking an amendment of section 22 sub section 7 of the constitution of Malawi which allows for a child as young as 15 to get parental consent for marriage. Together we have pushed and laboured, we have lobbied, discussed petitioned Ministers, MPs, lawyers, young people organised event after event; whomever would listen, to help us change this backward law. We were dismissed, rejected, called nuisances, and in other instances encouraged and given more information to keep our cause going. It looked bleak, impossible too ambitious, but even in these times we never lost hope nor our passion and drive. It’s such an incredible feeling to have to say the constitutional bill calling for this bill has finally been passed in parliament this afternoon!’

Mada Mondiwa further went to acknowledge by name some of the key young people who have fought to make this change be a reality, saying “…well done” and “thank you for starting this…for being a compass and for celebrating all the small victories leading to this with us”.

In this mood of singing hallelujah, one question remains. ‘Now that the marriage age is 18, what’s next?’

A 2014 Malawi Child Marriages Human Rights perspective report highlights that child marriages are caused by poverty, natural disasters and emergencies, cultural practices, weak legal framework, religion and low levels of education.

The passing of the marriage, divorce, and family relations act in 2015, and the revision of the constitutions marriage age, coupled with the adoption of international laws and policies, to some extent takes care of the weak legal framework challenge. With adequate sensitization and enforcement of these laws, Malawi should be able to see a change in cases of child marriages.

A strong legal framework is very likely going to address the cultural practices, weak legal framework, and religion challenges; however, it might fall short of addressing poverty, natural disasters and emergencies, and low levels of education.

Child marriages are a pathway out of poverty for girls and their families. This makes girls get married early and return to marriages once they have been terminated. Families give girls into marriage as a way of securing a source of livelihood for their family. If the girl is married to this man, then some of our problems are history. It may sound absurd, but girls also decide to get married at a tender age to escape poverty and the burden to taking care of their siblings. Girls who are heads of children-headed households explore marriage as a way of getting out of their predicament. It is therefore important to find alternative pathways out of poverty for both the girls and their families to ensure a sustainable eradication of child marriages in Malawi.

Malawi continues to register cases of floods and drought each year due to climate change. The natural disasters continue to compel families to give their young girls to marriage to get food and other basic needs. To protect girls from child marriages, there is a need to invest in climate-smart agriculture, and take a gendered approach to flood prevention and response.

There is also a need to develop a tailor-made education system that caters to girls who have been rescued from child marriages, and those who are heads of children-headed households. This education system must look into the needs of the girls, and content has to be developed to suit their mental state. Girls who decide not to pursue the path of education need to be enrolled in a skills development program that is tailored to their dreams and aspirations.

It needs to be understood that the amendment of the constitution is not a silver bullet that will solve all our child marriage problems in Malawi. There is a need to invest in the other areas highlighted above for Malawi to be child-marriage free.

Chimwemwe Manyozo is a Malawian, working to foster human-centred development through research, training and transformational leadership.

He is co-founder of maphunziro265, a platform created to bridge the information gap between needy students, and scholarship-providing individuals and organizations in Malawi.

A 2015/2016 Chevening Scholar studying for an MA Development Studies at the University of Sussex, in Brighton, United Kingdom. I earned my BA Media for Development from University of Malawi, Chancellor College.

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CommentarySports

​How Gabadinhos Entrepreneurship Is Paying Off

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​How Gabadinhos Entrepreneurship Is Paying Off

By Mpho Musowa

Malawis football genius Gabadinho Mhango launched his own brand of merchandise this year and it has had a successful take up.

Gabadinho has showed progress not only on the football pitch but also on the business front. Mention one player who has his own merchandise that actually sold out its first consignment within 3 days. 

Players in the country have to learn from the young Gaba going into uncharted waters from the Malawian point of view of diversifying.
In countries where football is well developed selling ones jersey is a marketing strategy which not only lets the fans feel closeness to the player but also generate income.

An example is that of Manchester United Zlatan Ibrahimovic whose deal with the devils’ saw him sell his shirt over 76 million pounds in its first week.

Want to know how worth a players shirt is? Ask Tom Brady. According to reports his stolen super bowl shirt is estimated to be worth anywhere from a whooping $300,000 to $500,000.

Gabas merchandise is going at 7000 each and is fast becoming the trendy merc around. 

We have seen more enquiries going to the player on when he will restock as well as open up new places in Lilongwe.
Over the years football players in the country  have had to endure shameful period of asking people for funds to cater for medical bills as well as funeral expenses not to mention some wallowing in poverty after illustrious careers. We need progressive minded football players like Gaba.

The steps Gaba has taken will ensure his financial stability long after he has retired from professional football. This is what we want to instill in our young upcoming players.

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CommentarySports

Gabadinho Mhango, Malawi’s Tom Brady

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Gabadinho Mhango, Malawi’s Tom Brady

By Mpho Musowa

Larger sections of Malawians have come to accept that supporting the national football team, the Flames is a waste of time and resources as the boys never seem to want to win and make the fans proud of their country.
The recent announcement of the Flames dropping 2 places on the FIFA world ranking on Friday to position 104 came as no surprise to many football spectators.

However, individually the players have gone to excel in their respective local clubs as well as on the international scene.

South Africa’s Premiere Soccer League (PSL) is Malawi’s top destination for professional players with Mozambique now becoming a lucratively alternative place. Nyasa Big Bullets midfielder Chimango Kayira is a perfect exemplary player who has plied his trade in the Mozambique league when he played for Club De Sol.

But one name that is ringing bells and giving goal keepers a tough time in the PSL is Frank ‘Gabadinho’ Mhango who came into the football arena showing his skills and prowess as Bullets savior before leaving for South Africa. Now that he is at Bidvest Wits with the clever boys, the magic foot is mesmerizing the PSL with his amazing goals, something we want at the national level.

Gabadinho is our Thom Brady, someone who inspires fellow players to victory. Thomas Edward Patrick Brady Jr. (born August 3, 1977) is an American football quarterback for the New England Patriots of the National Football League (NFL). 1 of only two players and the only quarterback to ever win five Super Bowls as well as being the only player to win them all playing for one team.

During the just ended NFL Super Bowl, Brady gave fans hope of a win before he even stepped on the pitch; he even motivated his fellow players to throw the ball to him when they were actually losing to turn the game around, sportsmanship.

Gaba scored a brace last week Wednesday night Mhango propelled his team to a 5 nil win over Ajax Cape Town. Over the weekend Gaba, as he is fondly called, also showed his value when he scored a crucial way goal as they lost 2-1 to Reunions Saint Louisienne in the CAF Confederations Cup preliminaries giving them some breathing room for the return leg.

Gabadinho

He is an influential and pivotal game changer. The caliber we need on our front line as he gives fans hope that perhaps one day The Flames can bring back the old glory days when we contested for regional championships and actually won caps.

Today’s youth cannot point at a single tournament that the Flames have won in the past two decades. Not one, which is quite deplorable if you look at the same timeline and compare with the women’s netball team, probably the only national team worth mentioning without being ashamed.

As Malawi prepares to face the recently crowned African kings of football, Indomitable lions of Cameroon in the 2019 Afcon qualifiers, Gabadinho is quoted in the papers saying he is not afraid. There is that hope we are talking about, knowing the task ahead and having a goal oriented mindset to win.

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Commentary

Social Media Killing Malawi?

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Do you want to know the downside of Malawi; its shortfalls, challenges and weaknesses? Only Malawians themselves can tell you better. All you have to do is visit any one of the many Facebook groups and pages where many Malawians vent out their views about their beloved country.

In the name of social media activism, thousands of Malawians have chosen to tackle issues of national interest on Facebook; sharing opinions, views, commentary and suggestions. Reading from any of the pages and groups such as My Malawi, My Views; many individuals seem to offer solutions to a number of challenges the country is facing, others simply take to lamentations on how sour life in Malawi can be, while others have taken it upon themselves to trash all development efforts the government and other relevant players are making.

Do not get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with taking to social media to express oneself, but as Shonda Rhimes put it in her commencement speech at Dartmouth in 2014 – “a hashtag is not helping”. She said that “A hashtag does not change anything. It’s a hashtag. It’s you, sitting on your butt, typing on your computer and then going back to binge-watching your favorite show.”

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Have we become couch-potatoes typing away on social media instead of taking action for developmental progress? Could Malawi be more productive if the thousands of social media activists could drop their keyboards, get off their butts, go out and do something instead? Answers may vary but deductions can be made by observing the use of social media in other African countries such as South Africa, Zambia, Kenya.

A Facebook search for “Malawi Views” yielded a list of groups and pages under the same name “My Malawi, My Views” with subscriptions of up to 100,000 members for some and around 30,000 members for the lowly subscribed groups.

A similar search for “Kenya Views” however gave out very different results. Out of three groups of similar objectives as My Malawi My Views, the highest subscribed to group has 69 members. One group called Kenya Political Views Alliance has a meagre 9 member subscription while Kenya Political Views and Leadership has 13 members. The most subscribed-to group is Kenya Political Views with 69 members.

But because Kenya is far off and on the eastern part of Africa, one could argue that we share very little similarities. So we took a similar Facebook search for Zambia and boy were we shocked. A group named My Zambia My Views exists, just like for Malawi but the difference is in the membership figures. My Zambia, My Views only has 129 members while similar groups such as Views of Zambia has 396 members; My Views Zambia Africa has 188 members and Zambia and Development Views only 101 members.

South Africans have also created Facebook groups for the expression of opinion and views, but unlike the Malawi groups, the Mzansi groups enjoy very low member subscriptions to the extent that the largest group called South African Politics – Lets Exchange Ideas only has 995 members. The controversial Economic Freedom Fighters’ Facebook group called EFF Views has only 24 members while Views of The Youth of South Africa in Our Democracy has only 10 members.

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Is social media activism stalling our participation in development activities? Are we a nation of ALL TALK, NO WALK? How come we have the highest numbers of social media activists than actual action on the ground? How come countries that are making huge strides in their developmental progress have little care for social media activism?

Simply food for thought as we enjoy a Merry Xmas and hope for a prosperous and Happy New Year!

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Commentary

An Apology to Airtel Malawi for A Job Well-Done!!

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Progress Malawi, would like to apologize to Airtel Malawi for not getting the “Thank You” it deserves for taking netball, especially our Queens, this far. Thank you, we say.

We find it inappropriate for other media outlets to ‘find it appropriate’ to carry headlines such as “Airtel Dumps Malawi Queens”, when in all essence the headlines should have read something like “Airtel Lets the Queens Soar, After Giving Them Wings”.

Our comprehension is that Airtel, after investing and sacrificing so many millions into the game, is contented to have achieved its objective of taking Queens to be among the top three netball teams in the world and that its now time for both (Airtel and the Queens) to set fresh goals, forge new partnerships and take on new challenges.

Part of the statement from airtel reads, “We believe leaving on such a high note will pave way for other willing sponsors to support the sport and take it to another level as well as afford other sports sectors in the country the chance to flourish from our support.”

Progress Malawi understands that:

  1. Airtel, having done the commendable task of sponsoring the Malawi Queens to where they are now, finds it only honorable to paveway for those willing to do more for the Queens and “take them to another level”.
  2. Airtel has not closed its doors, but will equally channel its resources to other sporting discplines so that they may  also benefit as did netball.

The rest is up to us.

Once again, Hooray to AIRTEL MALAWI!!!!!

 

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