For six years, the Enhancing Community Resilience Programme (ECRP) helped vulnerable people to move beyond survival and subsistence, to enjoy thriving and dignified lives.
To mark the end of one of our biggest and most successful programmes, tackling extreme poverty and hunger and strengthening the resilience of around 420,000 people in parts of Malawi hardest hit by climate change, Christian Aid produced this short film:
Background to ECRP
Christian Aid and its fellow consortium members CARE International Malawi and ActionAid Malawi together managed 10 local organisations with long-standing local experience who deliver ECRP on the ground.
ECRP enabled vulnerable households to move beyond survival and subsistence, to enjoy thriving and dignified lives: enough food and a steady income, safe conditions, and the resources and confidence to embrace new opportunities and manage risks that threaten them.
Christian Aid and its partners worked closely with DISCOVER, a sister consortium under the ECRP banner led by Concern Universal.
Through their eyes: using the powerful tools of participatory photography and real-life stories to help to demonstrate impact, validate results and strengthen the resilience and climate change work of ECRP Malawi.
Climate-smart agriculture techniques helped people in ECRP communities provide food for their families all year round. Conservation agriculture, including mulching, making manure, minimum tillage, crop rotation and association, and post-harvest management were used by more than 37,000 households. ECRP set up 41 community irrigation schemes benefiting more than 12,000 households, while seed systems and agro-forestry were used to ensure the maximum impact on harvests.
Village savings and loans (VSL) groups, where villagers start their own small bank, saving and lending to members with interest, helped communities build sustainable, resilient livelihoods. People used the money to improve their homes, buy essentials or invest in business ideas or agricultural inputs, such as better seeds. In particular, women (who make up 65% of those reached by ECRP) embraced the groups, in which almost 55,000 ECRP households participate.
ECRP communities were better prepared for disasters thanks to early warning systems, improved access to weather forecasts and village civil protection committees (VCPCs). When torrential rains in 2015 caused massive flooding in southern Malawi, these strategies were integral to preventing greater loss of life and in identifying immediate and longer term recovery needs.
To counter deforestation and potential landslides and flooding, people in ECRP communities learnt to replant trees – more than 270,000 throughout the programme. ECRP also supported more than 23,000 households to access affordable, clean energy (fuel efficient stoves, solar lights and sustainable charcoal).
Within ECRP, there were a large number of people (up to 78%) involved in at least three of its main activities. This synergy was critical.
Six ECRP interventions (VSL, agro-forestry, conservation agriculture, post-harvest management, early warning systems and seed systems) had more than 25,000 households involved.
The consortium approach, a multi-year timeframe and the initial investment in delivery systems were all essential in enabling ECRP to expand its outreach beyond expectations. ECRP exceeded direct beneficiary targets and delivered the depth of impact expected.
By the end of 2015, ECRP had already beaten end of programme targets for VCPCs, early warning systems, irrigation and conservation agriculture, while VSL had exceeded its 2015 milestone by 33%.
Specialist studies to test particular elements of ECRP’s theory of change showed it was impacting vulnerable communities in line with its design and business case.
One study – comparing the experience of flood-affected ECRP beneficiaries with non-beneficiaries in the same areas – found that ECRP beneficiaries were more likely to have received warnings and taken action on them. They also had a greater knowledge of potential sources of support, a wider range of coping mechanisms and were more likely to access post-flood funds for recovery.
Despite a trend of increasing food insecurity in ECRP target districts, food security among ECRP beneficiaries increased, with 48% of beneficiaries now food secure for 12 months and 60% for nine months compared to 12% and 51% respectively in 2012.
In terms of sharing lessons learned and influencing policies, ECRP produced a large number of information and communications materials using radio and print media and supported numerous policy and programme design processes. There was tangible evidence that lessons from ECRP have been used by other stakeholders.