Development Action for Marginalized Rural Areas (DAMRA) works together with local communities in some of the most marginalized rural areas of northern Malawi to address the issues of food insecurity, low household level income, environmental degradation and the HIV/AIDS pandemic. DAMRA started in 2004 with the objective to facilitate positive village-led social change by empowering, supporting and equipping communities with necessary skills through participatory, gender, youth and environmentally sensitive methodologies. DAMRA also provides training courses to beneficiaries, sometimes soliciting trainers from other institutions when they’re lacking the technical expertise, so that they can still train the beneficiaries in some other particular activities. More recently, in recognition of the role of youth in development, DAMRA is moving towards youth-focused programs.
DAMRA members believe the rural communities can be empowered through sustainable development initiatives provided by their own staff. In order to create a sense of ownership and ensure project sustainability, all DAMRA programs are conducted in a participatory manner.
The institution knows that farmers need to have access to as much information as possible regarding modern farming technologies, agricultural trading and marketing information, be it through DAMRA or other institutions. This information directly improves smallholder farming efforts, and their livelihoods.
DAMRA’s work is assured by the donations they receive from their partners. But today they find themselves struggling from a financial point of view, and needing more funding, possibly on a more sustainable basis, so that they can continue developing their work. In order to get further funding, they need to better communicate what DAMRA is all about, illustrate the results of their work, and why what they do is important for the people of Malawi.
One of the biggest challenges DAMRA is facing is their inability to showcase their successful work, which is not only affecting them when communicating to the community, but also when looking to attract new partners. Through this TIE placement they want to collect results, and then articulate and creatively illustrate their projects to create beautifully designed case studies which can be used to bring to life their work. They plan to use these materials to get more funders, partners and stakeholders involved with their cause, therefore improving their work, and the lives of small-scale farmers and the development of the marginalized rural areas of Malawi.