Fish ponds in schools were thought to be a thorn at the back. Some teachers and community members thought that these were a trap to the lives of young children who go to school. With great caution, ponds were constructed in several schools. Community members together with their Village Heads helped in identifying and allocating suitable land for the construction of the ponds. They even helped in excavating the fish ponds and making sure that everything required for the fish ponds was in place. This was in 2008. The participation and involvement of pupils and the community members helped in building confidence and driving out fears that engulfed many souls. For Samalani Primary School, what started as a dream to having fish ponds, came into reality. Keeping their dream alive and dedication to their efforts helps us to sit down by one of their ponds and learn their success story.
Benefits of fish farming are widely recognized and appreciated by the pupils, teachers and communites around the school. Fish as a nutritious commodity contains proteins, vitamins, micronutrients and essential fatty acids that improve human growth especially children. Therefore the presence and consumption of fresh fish is positively improving the nutritious status of pupils at Samalani Primary School. Fish ponds are further helping the children to learn about fish whilst it is closer to them."We are now learning issues of fish whilst we are seeing live fresh fish in our midst", says Crytone Kachingwe
Existence of fish ponds has amongst other things strengthened the relationship between the school authorities and the communities. Parents and guardians of pupils are now directly linked to the school activities. When ponds need water, the community helps in clearing the water canal so that water should reach the ponds easily. "We also assist in guarding the fishponds as we know that any theft will disturb the learning process of our own childern", explains Assamu Thangata, one of the parents.
Samalani Primary School has become a role model of other schools in western Zomba. In an effort to share its success story, on 21st September 2012, the school organized an "open day" to disseminate best practices to other neighbouring schools. The fihsponds and the open day were supported by funds through the GlobalGiving.
Nyangu Ningwa is an old lady who lives in Teuka Village and she is its village head. The village has big wetland locally known as dambo. The dambos are cultivated during dry season for vegetables and winter corn and these plots are called dimba. However, due to old age, Nyangu Ningwa could not utilize this resource and it was difficult for her to meet the daily food requirements. As a traditional leader, she relied on her subjects and other relatives for food for most parts of the year. With assistance from the GlobalGiving fund, the old lady constructed a 200 square meter and a 100 square meter pond. The pond was stocked with fish and she was trained to use the water from the fish ponds to irrigate different vegetables thus creating a readily available source of vegetables for her household and some for sell.
Just after a year of the new farming practice, Nyangu Ningwa's household is food secure and generates income to hire labor for her agriculture enterprise. “In the month of November 2011, I harvested some fish from my pondwhich I sold for Mk10 000.00 ($60). I used this money to buy fertilizers and seed under the government farm input subsidy program” the old lady narrates. Under the targeted input subsidy program a 50kg bag of fertilizer was sellingat about $3 and 5kgs maize seed at about $1.
While many households complain of reduced harvests in the 2011/2012 growing season, Nyangu Ningwa had a success story. She has managed to harvest 500kgs of rice, 1000kgs of maize, and 30kgs of beans. Thisis besides the different vegetables and sugarcane which she fails to quantify from her dimba.
“In appreciation to what GlobalGiving Fund has done to me, I am teaching and encouraging my fellow senior people who have suitable land for pond construction to take up the initiative” she concludes.
Asiyatu Kili is an old lady in Southern Malawi, west of Zomba District. She is one of the beneficiaries of a fish pond that was constructed using the Globalgiving donations with an idea of improving her economic level and food security. She was born in the 1930s but due to poverty in her family, she now supports a grand daughter aged about three years.
A 200 square meters pond was constructed and stocked with tilapia. Additionally, Asiyatu planted vegetables that she irrigates using water from the pond. With the integration, Asiyatu has not only improved the frequency of meals in a day but also nutritional quality of the meals with vegetables and fish. Asiyatu says that her health has improved tremendously since she started raising fish and growing vegetables. She also sells part of the harvest and has bought iron sheets to roof her dream house whose actual construction is to start soon.
The benefits of providing fish ponds are not only seen by Asiyatu. Village Headman Chiunda, acknowledges by thanking all donors to the Globalgiving fund that has enabled old people, often regarded as unproductive, to be engaged in productive lives thereby improving rural poverty.
This update provides successes of the project in alleviating lives of widows based on two case studies of Enelesi Jonasi and Asiyatu Kiri, a young and elderly widow respectively. In the center of food insecurity and economic hardships, widows are suffering from the impact of HIV/AIDS and poverty. In sub-Saharan Africa women take the brunt of caring for the family even in the presence of husbands. In the context of HIV and AIDS, women’s lack of ownership and control over economic assets such as housing and land often leave them impoverished. This is especially true in communities where AIDS-related stigma is high and widows can become socially isolated. Women who own or otherwise control economic assets are better able to prevail over such crises and transitions. With about $300 which you contributed, the project constructed an earthen pond each to Enelesi and Asiyatu of about 250m2, and bought 750 baby fish that were stocked in the ponds. The two ponds plus other agricultural activities linked to the ponds have improved the living standards of Enelesi and Asiyatu tremendously. Without your support, these people would’ve remained destitute.
There was joy and laughter as pupils of Ntanangala primary school in Chingale, Zomba tasted the first harvest of fish from their ponds. Harvesting about 85 kilograms of big fish they also sold baby fish for stocking in new ponds for about $107. With this money the pupils ahve repaired five doors of the school that were in ba state.
The school committee and school management are so proud that children can be so responsible.They thank all contributors for the project which not only can it reduce manutrition but also engage school children in life skills.
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Regional Director - East and Southern Africa