Village Savings and loans Associations (VSLA) is one of the activities that is being promoted by Aplus Project. Dongosolo VSLA is one of the groups in Rumphi District under Lukali Village Development Committee (VDC). The group has 17 members of which 2 are male and 15 are female.
In the First year of the project, the group managed to share Mk1, 500, 000.00 (2,918.29 AUD). Due to technical support received from the project the group managed to increase their savings to MK3, 000,000 (5,836.58 AUD) in year two of the project with an average of 307.19 AUD per person depending on the amount of shares purchased during the period. Some had never earned even half of what they got in just a single harvest. Love Nyasulu a member of the club living with disabilities with 5 children managed to buy a goat to add on what they were supported with by the A+ program. She had this to say “joining Dongosolo VSL group was one of the best things that ever happened to me. Keeping a large family is not easy”. While Twambilile Mbale another group member managed to buy land 2 acres through the proceeds from the same savings and loans initiative. Is using the land to produce Maize and Beans. Some of the members procured farm inputs such as fertilizers and while others paid school fees for their children in secondary schools.
The group further narrated that increasing their savings base was not an easy task, some of the group members have challenges in paying back the loans and this required the efforts of the group to assist such members to pay back the loans in instalments, This unity has also led to the group establishing a mushroom farming business that they had identified as one of the incomes generating activities to be promoted in their community action plans following asset mapping and visioning exercise done in 2016. “This has so much raised our profile as women of accessing loans just like men and also the elderly and has enabled us live a dignified life” said Tiwonge Gumbo one of the group members. The VSLA’s have not only increased ownership of assets but have also made it easy for them to access other basic needs like food, clothing as well as maintaining water points in the area. This is because the communities have a financial stake, they are far more committed to keeping the water points working
Dongosolo VSL group has seen its members on the path of transformation. Lucy Harawa ended by saying that “We have embraced the VSLA concept for we have seen with our own eyes how it has changed our families, our food situation, income and life”. A+ Project continues to offer technical support to old and new VSL as a way of empowering the communities.
SBA CHANGING THE LIVES OF THE MARGINALISED
Lovness Nyasulu 47 years old, hails from Mubodo Village Traditional Authority Chisovya in Rumphi Distrct. Loveness is married with five children, four girls and one boy, two girls got married three years ago and three children are at school. Lovenss is one person living with disabilities. Loveness has not gone far with her education, she just reached primary school level. Loveness depends on farming and piece to earn a living. Loveness lives in grass thatched house, after interviewing her it was revealed that the harvest has not been good to sustain her for whole year. Before the project loveness could walk 3kilometres to fetch water at river , but current is accessing water from a borehole is at 200metres from her house, the borehole was drilled by A+ Programme . The maximum yield she could harvest is 5 bags of maize on her 3 acres of land and income of MK 50,000.00(91.7 AUD) per year. Loveness had no livestock .She has been facing challenges to take care of her family. In 2016 loveness was selected as one of the participants in A+ Programme, and joined Dongosolo village savings and loans. The same year she got a loan of MK30,000.00 (55.07 AUD) and started a business of selling vegetables and local snacks. In 2017, loveness managed to raise MK160,000.00 (293.70 AUD). Loveness used the money to by farm inputs, pay schools fees for the children. and one goat, in 2018 to 2019 growing season loveness managed to harvest 15 bags of maize of 50kgs, 5 bags of beans of 50kgs. Additionally loveness is participating in irrigation farming. The income has also been increased to MK 200,000.00 ( 367.134 AUD). Loveness is also a secretary of Dongosolo Village savings and loans. “ my profile has been raised thanks to A+ Programme with SBA , am able to take care of my family using locally available resources and skills I have acquired “ said Lovenss Nyasulu. Apart from Village and Loan interventions loveness is also involved in beekeeping , vertical garden , irrigation and gender interventions. As of now loveness has four goats and two local beehives.Next year Loveness plans to build an iron roofed house after selling part of her farm produce.
By Henry Simukonda