By Ruth Mumba and Grace Moyo
At the turn of 2019, a new virus was making news in China. Before long, the virus had spread across the globe and everyone was required to re-think how they conducted their day to day activities. People were losing their lives; businesses were closing and scaling done in a bid to slow down the spread of the virus.
Abundance has three major projects that were running as of January 2020, The GlobalGiving E-learning Centre, the rice/ maize mill under World Connect and the Energy project under the Climate Justice Innovation Fund. As we observed the news every day, we knew that we had to find a way to continue our work while keeping safe.
On 20 March 2020, the government of Malawi declared a state of emergency. The government, companies and NGOs started encouraging employees to work from home, practice social distancing, wash hands and sanitize surfaces as often as possible to avoid contracting and spreading the coronavirus.
As a response to the pandemic, we initiated a mask making project that would see facemasks being donated to the local health centre in Mbando Village, T/A Mposa. This provided a simple solution to address the lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) that the health care system is grappling with. We also donated a hand washing bucket to an under five clinic and in the process of giving more of these handwashing units. Furthermore, we gave out masks to all the youth working in our projects.
Our largest project, is the “Development of sustainable clean cooking facilities to boost resilience to climate change in Malawi”. This project aims to help address deforestation in southern Malawi (Machinga) through delivering a sustainable biofuel production (biogas and biosyngas) and utilisation unit for clean and efficient cooking, manufacturing and maintaining the bioenergy kit in Malawi and attracting attention from local business. With a total funding of £122,583, the Bioenergy project, funded by Scottish Government Climate Justice Innovation Fund, gave Abundance the opportunity to work with partner organizations University of Glasgow, Fab Engineering, Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
Malawi did not impose a lockdown under COVID-19, but we kept indoors as much as possible and avoided meeting our Community Coordinator unless absolutely necessary. We sent him funds to purchase equipment as part of the project using mobile money. Most helpful was the purchase of two smartphones for the Community Coordinator and Administrator, which allowed us to ease communication with them. This project will pilot an innovative bioenergy cooker using biogas and biosyngas technology at Chilimba Primary School at Mbando village. We have reduced travelling to the community unless absolutely necessary. Instead, we have maximised on technology. We have used internet platforms to conduct trainings and hold meetings. We had an online training on “safeguarding” and are currently developing instructional videos for waste collectors to participate in this waste to energy project. Thinking out of the box, utilising our networks and trying out innovative approaches are the only way we can work under these times of COVID-19.
Reflections and Blogposts by Abundance members and friends
The blog posts here are a collection of reflections by people who have supported Abundance,or visited Mbando village where we work.