Travelling 92 km from Nkhotakota Boma reaching Kasitu you are going to meet a transformed community. Reaching senior group village headman Kafuzira in Traditional Authority (T/A) Kafuzira you are going to see members of Takondwa Women Group putting on happy faces. These people have been faithful members of this group since it started and have also patronized Village Saving Loans (VSL) meetings anchored by the women group facilitator (WGF), Eliana Finosi.
These meetings are so vital in dealing with some of the MHN problems the community has been facing before the project. Just for a year they have managed to raise and share more than 1.4 million kwacha from the savings.Takondwa women group identified long distance as one of the MNH problems pregnant women face as they travel to seek for services.
The nearest health facilities are Dwambazi and Ngala that are at the distance of 14 and 5 km respectively. And again, the issues surrounding birth preparedness and malnutrition among pregnant women were also some of the problems in the area. Through WG meetings the strategy to curb these problems was found and implementation started in 2016. About a year of implementation, they realized that amount of money which was shared equally among the members.
During this period all pregnant women have been a priority to borrow money for transportation, buying nutritious food and birth preparedness.Before Big Lottery Fund project people from this area were not faithfully going for all ANC visits as well as delivering at the health facility because of poverty.
The time when MaiKhanda was introducing the project, the community was hesitant to take part in any of the activities happening by either Task force (TF) or Women Groups. It was through Area Development Committee meetings, Health Surveillance Assistants, WGF and TF supervisions and monthly review meetings that called for clear understanding of the MNH activities taking place. Currently those who were still raging behind for instance men, are now participating such that it is now a man who is chairing a women group.
Men are extremely happy with this strategy as it has reduced domestic financial pressure on their wives when pregnant. At the moment they are searching for other avenues of sourcing money in order to sustain the outcomes of the project. Other women groups in the area have also started replicating what Takondwa group is doing after learning from the successes realized.
In the strides of achieving UNDP Sustainable Development Goal number 3 and working in line with National Community Health Strategy 2017 – 2022 to reducing maternal and mortality rate which is at 439 per 100,000 live births, BLF project is expected to benefit 27000 women of child bearing age (WCBA) and 17000 newborns by March 2018 as it is targeting three T/As of Kafuzira, Mphonde and Mwadzama.