Caritas Helps Communities In Africa Become Self Sufficient

african agriculture

The Australia Africa Community Engagement Scheme (AACES), was a program that ran for five years between 2011 and 2016 and was extremely successful. The program served communities in Tanzania and Malawi and as result of its efforts, those communities now have access to clean water and more secure sources of food. To add to that the communities are also more sanitary and hygienic.  The program was run by the Catholic Development Commission in Malawi.

Depending on subsistence farming

Tanzania and Malawi are amongst the poorest countries in the world. Over 75 per cent of the population in these two countries live in rural areas and depend on subsistence farming. Caritas Australia has been working with national Caritas offices in both countries for a number of years now. Whilst the Australian Government funded AACES program has now finished, Caritas Australia will continue to nurture a strong relationship with both countries.

Agatha’s story

Agatha Yosefe is 46 years old and is a mother two in Malawi. Ms Yosefe and many others in her community say that the AACES initiative produced radical change that had a transformative effect on the community’s mindset. The program used a strength based approach to development. What this means is that Caritas promotes local ownership as well as builds on people’s existing skills.

“The introduction of the Strength-Based Approach in our village was a turning point for us. After the community came up with their vision, my husband and I went home and we came up with our own vision. On top of the list was a decent house, which we now have,” says Ms Yosefe.

Developing skills

Agatha was able to develop skills and knowledge in agricultural techniques, and conservation through the program. This meant that her and her family were able to increase the maize harvest on their one hectare plot to 4.2 tonnes from just 600 kilograms. This means her family were able to achieve both food security and earn additional income from selling surplus production.

 “Two years ago I decided to buy a sewing machine to do tailoring as I noticed no one was doing it. Using a small loan from the AACES established village savings and loan proceeds, I bought the machine. Now I make an average of US$3 each day from tailoring. My life has changed for forever. I wasn’t given any coins, but the knowledge and skills to turn around my life on my own.”

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