Empowering poor rural communities with labor saving technologies for increased labor productivity, food production and income generation

The majority of smallholders in Malawi still practice subsistence farming and rely on antiquated production methods and inappropriate technology. Low productivity and work capacity are exacerbated by the high prevalence of the HIV/AIDS disease and a poor development of micro and small-scale rural enterprises that impairs cognitive development and performance.
The present project aims at contributing to human development in Malawi and addresses labour shortages arising in HIV/AIDS stricken rural communities, especially in household and farming activities. The project will act as a catalyst to facilitate access to labor-saving technologies and practices in targeted areas by promoting an effective participation of the beneficiaries, technical skills upgrading, technology transfer and development of the traditional micro and home-based food processing enterprises for income generation. It will also develop the capacity of local service providers by strengthening the growth of existing artisanal rural enterprises specializing in metalworking and woodworking to produce labour-saving equipment.
The project will introduce and diffuse several low-cost technologies for higher labor and agricultural productivity. A special emphasis will be put on increasing opportunities to help to prolong the active and productive life of people living with HIV/AIDS and to reduce the burden of household tasks on other family members. In addition, the project will contribute to foster extension services with respect to technology diffusion with a gender perspective.
The project is expected to benefit areas where the viability of rural livelihoods is seriously threatened by the shortage of labour and farm power, such as the Salima Agricultural Development Division, a rural region in central Malawi which represents an estimated population of 829,810 or about 165,962 farm families and where HIV/AIDS rate exceeds 18%. Project interventions will concentrate on 17 severely affected rural communes by the HIV/AIDS epidemic as evidenced by the number of female-headed household and orphans.

The project has already trained village improvement committees in income generating activities and helped initialise them. It has demonstrated the use of labour-saving technologies for a long-term increase and diversification of agricultural and non-agricultural income. It has also sponsored the training of orphans in the use of the equipment and facilities improved by the project, giving them opportunities for the future. UNIDO’s intervention is accompanied by the training of community development facilitators, to ensure the continuity of long-term services to poor people in Malawi.
The expected number of direct beneficiaries is estimated at 3,200 households for a total population of approximately 19,200 people, including 1287 female-headed households, 1854 male headed-households and 1144 orphans. Activities related to training for community development facilitators, local community technology promoters, self-employment skills for women and rural service providers will benefit approximately 400 people. The technology diffusion aspect of the project will benefit an estimated 5,000 smallholders and 1,250 women.