Eliminating urban poverty

Eliminating urban poverty

The day after being sworn in as Zomba-Likangala Ward Councillor in 2019, Munira Bakali had people outside her house seeking her intervention in their basic needs.

She recalls: “Almost every day, there could be people looking for assistance whether monetary or food for their households.”

Bakali (standing) shares a lighter moment with some of the women during the meeting

Bakali, who is Zomba City deputy mayor, says she wished the people could be economically active to sustainably support their families.

“It was a challenge. I was just praying to Allah that my people find means to get their needs, but I had to reach out to them anyway,” she says.

However, the deputy mayor is a relieved duty-bearer in the city following a socio-economical improvement of her subjects since 2021.

The development is attributed to Community Savings and Investment Promotion’s (Comsip) Livelihood Restoration program under the Malawi Government-dubbed Covid-19 for Urban Cash Interventions (Cuci).

The World Bank-funded initiative provided the urban-poor households of Lilongwe, Blantyre, Zomba and Mzuzu to cushion their economic hardships amid the pandemic. About 1 800 households in 10 wards were targeted in Zomba City with K105 000 each.

Comsip Cooperative Union Limited (Comsip) introduced the beneficiaries in the ward to the concept of savings and loan groups to promote their financial and economic empowerment.

Bakali says she encouraged her wards to join the groups for effective use of the money.

“I am happy that many heed my call otherwise the money could have been spent on consumption only. In the groups, they have been engaged in mindset change and financial literacy training that challenged them to develop a saving and entrepreneurial culture,” she says.

In the over-five Comsip clusters in the area, the beneficiaries save their earnings and get loans for businesses.

Community facilitator for Tidalirane Comsip Cluster Gastin Mwepesa said life has changed for the better since they embraced the saving groups.

He says: “Everyone budgeted the money well to get basic needs and start business for income.”

Mwepesa used part of his money to open a recording studio in Chikanda Area that provides his four-member household with money every day.

Like Chifundo Benga of Mgwirizano Comsip Cluster, the groups help members to get loans and essential skills to run profitable businesses whose proceeds have improved their lives for the better.

Benga said: “I borrowed K50 000 to add to my K70 000 to get materials for my fritters business. The business has empowered me to the extent that I have built a house and I provide basic needs for my three children easily.”

She has diversified her sources of income as she sells clothes in the city from Tanzania.

Another member, Memory Chimenya, says Comsip turned around their lives for the better.

“I am economically empowered. I started selling tomatoes in Zomba Main Market with a capital of K20 000. Now my capital is over K100 000. The proceeds have allowed me to support my two children being trained in carpentry and mechanics,” she says with a smile.

Mphatso Mkwanda, who is thriving with selling mandasi and doughnuts in Chikanda Area courtesy of the Mgwirizano Comsip Cluster, says women in the area have developed good habits that complement their efforts in pursuing financial independence.

She explains: “Comsip made our lives better. There was a culture of gambling among women that perpetrated poverty and laziness.

Now, many are responsible as we belong to the clusters that changed our mindsets to fight poverty to achieve sustainable development.”

Bakali commends Comsip for making her people productive.

Likangala Ward Comsip case worker Gracious Chaplain says they are pleased with the strides members are making to be self-reliant and sustain livelihoods.

He says: “We support to get skills for running successful businesses for them to eliminate their households’ poverty.”

The total savings for all five clusters in the award amount to K183 million.

The post Eliminating urban poverty first appeared on Nation Online.

The post Eliminating urban poverty appeared first on Nation Online.