Thoughts from the Last Mile Welcome to the VillageReach Blog
11.19 2012

Evaluating our Progress and Planning for the New Year in Malawi

In 2012, the Kwitanda Community Health Project expanded into new programmatic areas, increasing its reach by developing new maternal and newborn health activities, establishing the Kwitanda Economic Development Initiative and starting work on filling gaps in HIV care in the community.

As we start a new fiscal year, the Kwitanda Community Health Project team has reviewed the results from our 2012 evaluation. The full report is posted on the Evaluations and Assessments section here. The evaluation has been a key tool for us in reflecting on last year’s progress and areas that need improvement as well as developing strategies for next year. Here are some of the highlights from this year’s evaluation and examples of how we are using these results to inform our planning:

Access to clean drinking water significantly increased in 2011 and 2012.
During the past year, VillageReach constructed and repaired 10 boreholes to increase access to clean drinking water. Eighty-eight percent of Kwitanda residents have access to clean water and 54% have to travel less than 500 meters (< 1/3 mile) to the nearest water-source. We will continue working to improve access to clean drinking water over the next year. Access to sanitation improved between 2011 and 2012. Over the last year, VillageReach supported the installation of 220 sanplats in household latrines to improve sanitation and helped construct 1,045 tippy-taps to provide hand-washing facilities and decrease diarrhea. As a result, we saw an increase in the number of household with sanitary latrines (up to 80% from 72% in 2011) and the number of households with access to a handwashing facility (up to 43% from 14% in 2011). Next year, VillageReach plans to intensify our efforts in information, education and communication around safe water storage and handwashing and improving sanitation through implementation of community led total sanitation (CLTS). CLTS ensures that every household has a pit-latrine (and uses it) and aims to have the catchment area declared Open Defecation Free (ODF).

Malaria rates decreased significantly between 2011 and 2012. Of the households included in our sample survey, 62% reported at least one person with malaria during the last 4 months, compared to 72% last year. Though malaria rates decreased, there was a disappointing decrease in mosquito net ownership and usage. Approximately 1/3 of children who received a mosquito net from VillageReach last year reported not sleeping under a net this year. VillageReach plans to conduct follow-up with a sample of families in order to learn more about what barriers prevent these children from sleeping under a net despite receiving a net in addition to continuing with net distribution to children aged less than five years.

Baseline indicators for maternal and neonatal health highlight a need for new interventions. The maternal and neonatal health indicators from 2012 suggest gaps in current services geared toward mothers and young children, particularly in the area of facility births, exclusive breastfeeding, receiving timely postnatal care, and receiving all four recommended antenatal visits. VillageReach is well positioned to address these gaps next year and has already started addressing these gaps; VillageReach recently supported the training of all 23 Health Surveillance Assistants for Kwitanda in maternal and child health and launched outreach antenatal clinics to better serve women hard-to-reach areas. VillageReach also intends to support chiefs in establishing village models that aim to foster maternal, child health and safe motherhood programs including IEC on the importance of male involvement in maternal and safe motherhood.

We are excited about the upcoming year and look forward to intensifying our efforts to reduce malaria and diarrhea as well as expanding our reach into new areas.

Patrick Karonga Phiri
Project Manager, Kwitanda Community Health Project
Balaka, Malawi

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