Amalima Launches Collaborative Learning Website

By David Brigham

Amalima-supported Mbuyane Dam in Gwanda District, Zimbabwe

Since 2013, CNFA has implemented Amalima — a seven-year, USAID Development Food Assistance Program in in the Matabeleland region in southern Zimbabwe. The project works to bolster nutrition security through a first 1,000 days approach that targets pregnant and lactating women and children under two, while also increasing household resilience and food security through activities like cash for assets, agriculture and livelihoods support, household asset vouchers (HHAV), village savings and lending (VS&L), water access, and community mobilization.

When the project concludes at the end September, Amalima will have helped more than 120,000 vulnerable households in Zimbabwe’s Bulilima, Gwanda, Mangwe (Matabeleland South), and Tsholotsho ((Matabeleland North) districts sustainably improve household food security and nutrition. Significantly more than 67 [DB1] percent of the program’s beneficiaries have been female.

Amalima beneficiary and Care Group member, Blessed Mhlanga

Amalima’s strong emphasis on promoting adaptive change through learning was a major key to the success of the program. As part of that effort, Amalima created a Learning Unit in early 2018 to formalize the many ad hoc studies and assessments that were performed to improve the effectiveness of the program’s s technical interventions and management.

The studies examined a wide range of topics — including beneficiaries’ use of village savings and loan group funding, barriers preventing youth participation in activities, and lessons learned from Amalima’s gender-based approach, among others.

To celebrate the conclusion of the project, Amalima originally had planned to host a final, May 2020 learning event to share lessons learned with local government representatives, community members, USAID, implementers of other development projects, and a range of other key stakeholders. However, as has happened with so many other communal activities, COVID-19 restrictions forced the cancellation of the event.

Not to be denied, Amalima turned to technology for a solution. In lieu of the educational event, the team developed a comprehensive learning website to showcase project results through photos and videos of the project’s approaches and activities, as well as a repository for studies and training materials that can be used and shared with other local and international members of the development community.

Sample of studies from Amalima’s new learning website

The site includes a wide range of Amalima’s training materials — available for free download in English and Ndebele — including “Healthy Harvest” modules that promote the growing and use of nutritious foods. Users can also download materials related to the Male Champions campaign developed as part of Amalima’s social behavior change approach. These materials cover six key behaviors that men can adopt to benefit their households — including helping spouses with collection of firewood, infant feeding, meal preparation and other activities traditionally performed by women.

Amalima Male Champions engage in soccer tournaments to promote participation in campaign

Users of the site can also access fliers in English, Ndebele and Shona that detail preventative measures — developed in partnership with the Zimbabwe Ministry of Health and Child Care and the World Health Organization that individuals and households can use to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Sample of multimedia resources from Amalima’s new learning website

The website also contains materials for development implementers who plan to build on Amalima’s success in the Matabeleland; infographics and tables that detail the program’s accomplishments from 2013 through 2020; and videos that showcase Amalima’s work on health clubs, mother care groups, improved livestock management, village savings and loan groups, and community built dams and irrigation works.

Although the project soon will conclude, the team is pleased to be able to offer other members of the development community this online repository of learning and resources that they can use to build on and expand the success of Amalima. Because there is always more to be done.

The website is available here.

[DB1]Is this meant to be “significantly, more…”? otherwise “significantly more than 67%” looks odd.

The author is the Chief of Party of Amalima, implemented by CNFA.

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