CTC Project Impact Reaches Beyond Malnourished Children

“At first, I completely had no idea about motorcycle riding. I never even rode a bicycle! …But with determination, I told myself I was going to go for it and make it!”
— Linley Luwayo
Nutrition Coordinator, Salima District

When four nutrition coordinators working on a short-term relief project in Malawi learned that they would be conducting supervisory site visits, they might not have considered that becoming a licensed motorcycle driver would be part of the job description.

Having successfully completed their intensive 10-day course in motorcycle riding, Gladys Kondwerani, Elizabeth Kapyepye, Linley Luwayo, and Berlings Banda are able to monitor the rehabilitation of severely malnourished children through home and site visits. Conducting the visits on motorcycle eliminates the added expense of fuel and a driver for a larger vehicle and allows the coordinators to traverse difficult roads. Long after this brief project is complete, the riders will retain valuable skills and, perhaps as important, the confidence and empowerment they earned through this opportunity.

Addressing Emergency Nutrition Needs

In early 2006, with the support of the Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance, MSH’s USAID-funded Malawi Program began implementing a rapid scale-up of community therapeutic care (CTC) in districts of Malawi hardest hit by the current food crisis. CTC programs enable outpatient rehabilitation of malnourished children, thus saving families the out-of-pocket expenses and lost work time that comes with hospitalizing a child, and allowing the project to reach more children in need.

As with many development projects, the effects of the CTC scale-up have reached well beyond the intended consequences. In this case, trained professionals have gained another valuable skill for saving lives and improving health in their country. Chief of Party Rudi Thetard summed up the thoughts of many involved with the project: “This is what part of [international development] is about—developing and empowering others, and it is immensely satisfying when this occurs.”

The Intended Results

While the “added value” of enriching the lives of the newly licensed riders is striking, their training is not without intent or measurable result. By helping the nutrition coordinators to travel more efficiently, they and the project are able to more effectively follow up and monitor project activities. Since the project started in late January 2006, it has facilitated scaling up the CTC services from 5 to 59 facilities, allowing the enrollment of 2,760 severely malnourished children into the nutrition rehabilitation program. 795 health workers and 958 volunteers have been trained to, among other things, identify children to enroll in the program, monitor the children’s progress, and make referrals for their further care when necessary.

The Riders

“With this motor bike riding … I have managed to follow-up children in CTC program in their homes and managed to assist them as well as the care takers. The office is able to save fuel, because I don’t need a vehicle when doing supervision. Being a community worker motor bike riding is an asset because I can see doors have been open to other opportunities.” —Elizabeth Kapyepye is a community health nurse and has been working in Mulanje District for several years as an all-around trainer. She has been trained in IMCI, VCT, HIV/AIDS, and nutrition.

“The day I passed my riding test was one of the best days of my life. I could not believe I had made it! …This special skill has given me an added advantage for other field jobs after this emergency project job. Additionally, this is a rare achievement for a Malawian woman, a girl. A lady on a motorcycle is an unusual sight in Malawi. I am proud of this!” —Linley Luwayo is a recent university graduate with a BSc degree in Environmental Sciences and a major in food technology. She is very enthusiastic and eager to learn more about nutrition

“It feels good to ride the motorbike; it helps me to get to the health center to supervise CTC activities.” —Berlings Banda is also a recent graduate of an Environmental Health program. He was as a Community Health Technical Assistant with MSH/RedCross Program and has since worked with other public health NGOs.

“I was an object of curiosity during the first days of my motorcycle riding in Chikwawa town…. What I liked most about my community’s initial reaction was the hand clapping and the kind words of encouragement for me to ‘Go, go, go!’…The riding skill is a big asset for me. Who would resist employing an adventurous middle age woman?” —Gladys Kondwerani, a well-known community health nurse, managed MCH clinics and worked at Chikwawa District Hospital for over eleven years.

Ms. Kondwerani passed away on July 15, 2006; she will be greatly missed by her family, friends, colleagues, and patients.