By Meg Bearor & Myson Jambo
Root Change is excited to share that after careful preparations and months of planning, CII Malawi launched in Zomba District Council with the Ulumba community. CII Malawi started with 50 families in the Ulumba area under Traditional Authority Chikowi in Zomba.
Root Change has partnered with Youth for Development and Productivity (YODEP) to identify and engage with families. YODEP is a local organization operating in Zomba T/A Chikowi, focusing on creating a better and safe environment for children and youth in society. As an engagement partner, YODEP has helped to identify and engage families.
On June 10th, after holding an orientation session with all families earlier in the month, the 50 families came together for the official program launch. Many of the participants brought spouses and children to join in the celebration. There was a lot of energy and excitement at the launch day with traditional songs, games, and celebratory food. In addition to the community were representatives from the Zomba District Council, the YODEP team, and Tilitonse Foundation.
The launch event was a mix of celebration and work. Things started with welcome remarks from the Root Change team, Joy of YODEP, and Robert from the Tilitonse Foundation. Later there was a lively discussion led by participants, sharing what they were excited about CII and sharing what the concerns were from their families when they first heard about the initiative. In addition, the participants had time to meet with their groups of 12 other families to get to know each other, review their roles, and think about how they will support each other. These groups will meet monthly to fill out the Journal and discuss different issues concerning their families.
A vital component of the initiative is the use of the monthly journals. The group read aloud the different sections of the Journal, pausing to answer questions ensuring all participants fully understood the process. The response from the families was awesome; they were excited about CII and asked great questions during this session.
The event closed with a communal meal with families, and community members prepared the meal.
Peer-Driven Change Event
CII is an excellent example of peer-driven change; after the launch of CII in Zomba, Root Change hosted various organizations in Lilongwe for a peer-driven change event. The participants came across from both local and international organizations. Together the group crafted Malawi’s first-ever principles of engagement for Peer-Driven Change: An opportunity to redefine development approaches in Malawi.
Background on the CII Project
The CII pilot project engages families in a transformative, peer-driven model that seeks to leverage their innate talents, strengths, and resourcefulness. Contrary to conventional development approaches, CII refrains from providing services or advice, opting instead to establish a framework that empowers families to define their own goals and foster social networks that reinforce their progress. The primary objective is to uncover the strategies families utilize to uplift themselves and their communities.
The CII Malawi pilot project will run for twelve months, with Root Change sharing findings with the Zomba District Council and other local and international organizations. The ultimate aim is to cultivate the initiative and catalyze its growth throughout Malawi. With CII’s novel approach to development, NGOs and funders in Malawi, as well as larger international organizations have a unique opportunity to witness firsthand how this model differs from traditional methods. CII has the potential to revolutionize development work in Malawi, offering a more sustainable, community-driven approach that places families at the center of the decision-making process.
For NGOs working in Malawi and international organizations partnering with local entities, CII presents an exciting opportunity to rethink our strategies and explore new ways of supporting communities. Instead of imposing external solutions, CII is a pathway to invest in initiatives that are genuinely rooted in the communities they serve, leading to long-term change and resilience.
We also hope that funders, both within Malawi and beyond, will take notice of CII’s potential to create lasting, positive change. By supporting peer-driven change models like CII, they can contribute to the development of innovative, context-specific approaches that prioritize the voices and experiences of the communities themselves.