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The Improving Livelihoods through Increasing Food Security program (I-LIFE) was a 5-year livelihoods program ending June 2009. The program worked in the areas of agricultural production, irrigation and water management, rural finance, health and nutrition, HIV/AIDS, and decentralization.


Agriculture

In the area of agricultural production, villagers increased food security through extensive training in post-harvest handling/storage, food utilization, and seed banks/revolving schemes.


The Lead Farmer approach trained progressive farmers in each community to replicate agricultural trainings themselves rather than depending on outsiders. Lead Farmers helped to upgrade the use of organic fertilizer, and increase agro-forestry interventions.


Economic development was the largest area of I-LIFE's agricultural program, aimed at increasing participant households' resiliency to shocks, as well as providing money to purchase household items, pay school fees, and invest in fertilizer or other enterprises.  


In the Food for Work/Cash for Work initiatives, villagers participated in livelihood improvements within the village and in return received food or cash during the 3 months of the year when household food supplies are likely to run low. Livelihood improvements included: digging roads for easier pedestrian, bicycle, and vehicle traffic, and completion of water reservoirs.


In the area of irrigation, I-LIFE expanded the size of irrigated land at existing sites and identifies new sites as well.


Village Savings and Loans clubs formed and and VSL Community Agents established to provide community-based services to the VSL groups which sustain beyond the life of the program.


Bulk marketing was the most widespread of the agricultural activities. Farmers were collected into marketing clusters and trained on how to choose crops, ensure quality of produce, and link with high value buyers.


Health and Nutrition

I-LIFE trained Growth Monitoring Volunteers (GMV) and provided assistance to the Malawian Government in printing and distributing health booklets.


Food Distribution to the Chronically Ill provided nourishment to some of the most vulnerable members of the community. Beneficiaries received 50kg cereal, 1 tin oil, 5kg beans, and 10kg soya. Food Processing and Utilization activities included: training communities in the moulding of fuel efficient stoves as an Income Generating Activity (IGA), distribution of plastic for solar driers, use of fireless cookers, and training of food preservation techniques. Messages of sanitation and hygiene were disseminated for pit latrines, dish driers, clothes lines and rubbish pits. 


The Care Group model disseminated health and nutrition intervention messages using community resources to compliment organizational resources. It acted like a large pyramid, with each successive layer growing in size: our staff supervised 16 promoters, these promoters in turn reached out to community volunteers, who then reached out to mothers.


The Positive Deviant (PD) Hearth initiative provided training  in child feeding and the preparation of nutritious foods. Participants received Vitamin A and Albendazole tablets.


HIV/AIDS

I-LIFE encouraged people living with HIV/AIDS to form support groups and trained them in positive living and psycho-social support. I-LIFE was involved in VCT open days, spreading the message of HIV and encouraging HIV testing in remote areas where regular access is unavailable. I-LIFE used Hope Kits and Bambo wa Chitsanzo kits to spread messages of awareness about HIV and encourage abstinence and faithfulness as methods of protection from the spread of HIV.


I-LIFE was involved in the training of volunteers for Home Based Care (HBC) and peer educators in coordination with the District Youth Office and sponsored girls to attend the Girl Guide Congress aimed at building self-confidence among young girls in the fight against HIV-AIDS.


Decentralization

I-LIFE trained  Umbrella Community Based Organizations (UCBOs), Village Development Committees (VDC), the Area Development Committee (ADC) and Water User Committees.

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