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Project information

Healthy mums and babies in Malawi

We have set up 295 community women's groups where women will be empowered to have a healthy pregnancy and safe delivery. Their newborn babies will benefit from their enhanced knowledge and stand a greater chance of survival. We aim to reduce newborn deaths by 1/3 in the project catchment area.

April 2014 - December 2016

Charity information: Women and Children First UK

Women and Children First UK logo
  • Need


    Pregnancy is such a dangerous time in a Malawian woman’s life that it is considered unlucky to tell people about it.

    Malawi has significant social and economic development challenges. The majority of women live in scattered villages and find it hard to reach health facilities. Women lack vital information they need to make informed health decisions. And scarce resources means that health facilities struggle to provide the quality services needed to save mothers’ and babies’ live


    We are working with our local partner, the MaiKhanda Trust, to set up women's groups to raise women's awareness of how to look after themselves during pregnancy and childbirth - to eat well, get antenatal and postnatal care and give birth in a health centre. Women are supported to successfully address problems such as not having money to pay for medicines or not knowing when a baby must see a doctor. We are advocating for improvements in the quality of health services for mothers & babies

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    To empower rural women to access quality maternal and newborn health services.


    » Empower women in groups to recognise and address maternal and newborn health challenges and access appropriate care.
    » Ensure women are referred to appropriate antenatal, delivery and postnatal health services
    » Increase the capacity of the local partner, the MaiKhanda Trust, to advocate for accessible, quality maternal and newborn services

    What success will look like

    Success will be reaching 52,976 women & 11,517 newborns. Self-evaluation will show each women's group has successfully delivered at least 5 solutions to priority health problems

  • Impact


    The project is improving the care of women and babies in the community and in health facilities. Harmful traditional practices - such as putting cow-dung on an umbilical cord - will be addressed and result in long-term, sustainable changes. Women will pass on their newly gained knowledge to the next generation. The wider community including traditional leaders and gate-keepers (husbands, mothers in law) are included into the project thus ensuring a whole community approach.


    There are no significant risks attached to this project as it uses a tried and tested approach and will be delivered by a highly experienced local partner. Two risks which we cannot control are the lack of resouces in health facilities which compromises quality care, and the climate as flooding can hold up project activities. We have encountered these problems in the past and addressed them through advocacy or pausing activities for some days or weeks until it is possible to work properly again.


    This kind of project takes 2-3 years to achieve final results, but ongoing progress will be announced on our website - - and our facebook and twitter pages.

    Donors can sign up to receive e-newsletters with the latest news on our work in Malawi and elsewhere.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £259,089

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £59,625 Project activities Training facilitators, running women's groups, materials, local travel
      £120,588 Staff costs Local and UK staff inputs
      £48,887 Admin Office rent and overheads, capex, international travel, T-shirts and bags for faciitators
      £29,989 Monitoring and evaluation Baseline and endline surveys, field visits

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    Department for International Development £249,824 Guaranteed
    Eleanor Rathbone Charitable Trust £1,000 Guaranteed
  • Background


    Despite recent economic growth, Malawi ranks 174 of 187 in the Human Development Index, and poverty remains widespread. The project location, Nkhotakota, is one of the poorest districts. Maternal and child healt services suffer from a shortage of health workers and supplies, frontline staff skills are poor and referral systems ineffective. This results in low usage of health services and maternal and child health indicators show high levels of deaths and ill-health.


    The project will benefit 52,976 women +11,517 newborns in rural areas where poverty is greatest. It will also benefit 105,952 others as women in groups will share their new knowledge with girls and older women. Maternal and newborn health and mortality statistics in the district are worse than the Malawi averages. There are no projects similar to ours in the project area. The work will impact on poverty during the project lifetime and in the future as changes will be sustainable

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    Women and Children First has worked successfully with the MaiKhanda Trust since 2007. We have collaborated on projects in three other districts which showed that the women's groups approach reduced perinatal mortality by 16% and improved maternal and newborn health. The local team know the district well and want to bring the success and learning from previous work to areas which have not had the benefit of women's groups.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    The MaiKhanda Trust

    MaiKhanda will deliver all the in-country project activities.

Mums and babies need help

Mums and babies need help


Pays for a group facilitator for a year