In Madagascar, joining a community-savings group ensures a decent quality of life
Rodrick has been a member of a community-savings group for two and a half years. It is also the age of his daughter, Jessy, who exudes health because he was able to provide for his daughter properly through this initiative.
Jessy, 2 years old, has never had any health or weight regression problems since birth. She is a source of pride for her father who perceived her development as the result of his membership in a community-savings group of his village in 2020. Indeed, the situation has not always been easy for the small family. “We had no land to cultivate and lived mainly from picking dried clove leaves. When my wife was pregnant, I knew it would be impossible for me to follow the nutrition education advice of the village community worker and care for my daughter,” says Rodrick, 25.
Very attendant to the monthly awareness sessions for pregnant women and mothers of children under 5, delivered by community workers as part of a UNICEF project on improving nutrition and family income, with the support of the Danish government, he and his wife were challenged by the initiative of the same project which encouraged the community to come together and form a village savings and credit association. The objective is to help them improve their sources of income and the resilience of their household so that they become economically independent and can adopt quality and quantity food. “We were attending a session on hygiene and nutrition for pregnant women, when fear invaded me in the face of the challenge that awaited me. I then made the decision to be part of the group,” says Rodrick.
“In the group we received several trainings such as financial education, how to make a vegetable garden, the processing and drying of fruits and vegetables and income-generating activities. Thanks to the savings, I was able to borrow to rent a plot of land and work on my vegetable garden. The NGO People Power Inclusion – implementing partner of the project – at the beginning provided us with seeds and small tools for the community garden. As for me, I have made my own vegetable garden an income-generating activity,” he continues.
Jessy is exclusively breastfed until she is 6 months old. Fortunately, her period of food diversification coincided with the first yields from Rodrick's vegetable garden. “We had to introduce complementary foods, and in my garden I had cabbages, cucumbers, carrots and tomatoes. I no longer had to worry about finding food for my little family. We even had a surplus that allowed us to buy meat for Jessy,” he says. Today, the little girl is in preschool, the income has also made it possible to prepare her for schooling. “We already have our own land and I have become the community relay who accompanies the new members of the community-savings group,” concludes the father of the family.