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Promoting Sustainable Livelihoods in a Malawian Village
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Promoting Sustainable Livelihoods in a Malawian Village
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When it comes to lifting themselves out of poverty, the residents of one Malawian village have discovered that their most valuable resource is knowledge. Armed with new ideas, they are growing more food, creating enterprises, and improving life in their community. 

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Segment 1

VOICEOVER
In a modern supermarket in Lilongwe, the capital city of Malawi in southeast Africa, shoppers are paying premium prices for packs of oyster mushrooms. They're prized for their flavor and nutritional qualities. The increasing popularity of these mushrooms has given a Malawi village hope that it can lift itself out of poverty. Just five kilometers from the Zambian border, Ndawambe is a poor hamlet of 330 households. It barely survived the recent drought, and food security is always a major concern for everyone in the community. Besides tilling the land, villagers here have few resources to develop alternative ways of making a living. Maize is the principle crop. And, traditionally, villagers have used the husks as soil fertilizer. But recently they discovered that they could also use the husks to grow mushrooms. From a training workshop sponsored by the UN Development Programme, UNDP, they've learned to rely on their own resources to breed oyster mushrooms. Zahra Nuru Is the UNDP Resident Coordinator in Malawi.
ZAHRA NURU
They are also using the husks of maize, cutting them up and growing mushrooms. They know that instead of waiting for the rainy season to get mushrooms once a year, as they usually do here, they can get mushrooms every five weeks.
VOICEOVER
And it takes farmers only one week to learn the entire process, from building the mushroom houses to creating the bases in which the fungi grows. It's a profitable business with few overheads. Farmers need only pay for the building materials for the huts and the seedlings. The project is part of a UNDP pilot program underway in the village to help improve living conditions. Aquaculture is another major activity. Farmers receive training in preparing the ponds, as well as the fingerlings that will grow into adult fish, ready for harvest. In addition, the village now owns an oven given by UNDP, making food more readily available. Since the pilot project started three years ago, life in the village has greatly improved. People particularly appreciate the knowledge they have gained. Leoson Hara is the village Headman.
LEOSON HARA
The projects have changed our livelihoods. We now know of many things that we never knew before. The village now has more food and more income.
VOICEOVER
Oyster mushrooms have also become one of their favorite foods. The success of the project has encouraged other small enterprises to mushroom too. For these Malawian villagers, the transfer of knowledge and know-how is the best tool they can have to fight poverty, one of the main UN Millennium Development Goals. This report was prepared by Kamil Taha and Patricia Chan for the United Nations.