Project information

A Child is Born

We seeks to build a Safe Motherhood Unit (SMU) for women prior to giving birth, in order to reduce maternal and infant mortality rates thereby ensuring the on-going health of families. We seek to tackle malnutrition, prevent disease transmission, reduce premature births and disability.

April 2017 - October 2018

Charity information

African Vision Malawi

African Vision Malawi logo
  • Need


    In Malawi, there are few safe birth facilities so women often give birth in villages in unsafe conditions that lead to high maternal and infant mortality rates. Clinics are often very far and transportation unavailable. When clinics are available women arrive at the last possible moment leading to risks of complications and traumatic births. Pregnant and nursing women also suffer from malnutrition in our area. Malnutrition in mother and child is responsible for maternal and infant deaths.


    We will solve the above problems by building a Safe Motherhood Unit (SMU) next to our maternity unit, providing:
    Improved maternal and infant Health awareness to avoid disability through traumatic births, infectious diseases, preventable burns and malaria.
    Nutrition training to empower women with life skills of improved nutrition and permaculture techniques that will enable food security in the community.
    Transportation to the SMU via bicycle ambulances to improve access to health facilities.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Provide a safe environment for expectant mothers who often arrive late with birth complications


    » Connect the existing clinic and maternity ward by building the SMU. Convert the existing delivery room into an under 5s surgery.
    » Plan for the conversion of the buildings, using expertise we have now in the local African Vision Malawi staff, liaising with medical staff on site.
    » Complete building work under the supervision of proven local African Vision Malawi managers.

    Quarterly reports will be sent to head office to evaluate the attendance rates and lengths of stay of women at the SMU. Evaluation of safe births rates and referrals to hospital.

    Aim 2

    Build a permaculture garden for mothers-to-be to learn about food security and good diet.


    » Plan for a permaculture garden to be positioned around the new Maternity Waiting Home.
    » Build the garden, using expertise already available on site from our permaculture officer.
    » Install water harvesting devices that will provide water and teach efficient modes of irrigation suited to the local environment.

    We will develop nutrition and permaculture training. We will monitor the amount of time women spend in the SMU garden. We will monitor the setup of gardens in home villages.

    Aim 3

    Teach permaculture and nutrition to reduce birth complications, malnutrition and stunted growth.


    » Train mothers-to-be to plant, grow, recognise and prepare nutritious foods they can grow at home. Provide cooking and permaculture classes.
    » Provide new mothers with starter packs (seeds+ 1 live chicken) to enable mothers to develop chances for food security at home.
    » Create a network of new mothers, establish long term relationship with families, create an SMU seed bank to benefit more and more women.

    Long term follow up visits will enable us to evaluate the health of families who have used the SMU and received the starter pack. Analysis of data from under 5s clinic.

    Aim 4

    Provide long term follow-up and monitoring


    » Organise for follow-up and monitoring to take place quarterly. Analyse changes in nutrition and livelihoods as well as health of children and mothers
    » Reinforce links with home villages to support change through the existing Local Based Committees and Outreach workers.

    Through our LBCs, we will get feedback on the experience of women passing through the programme, and we will monitor the establishment of new gardens in the women's home villages.

    Aim 5

    Inform parents about antenatal care, provide classes on disease prevention, family planning, etc.


    » Provide prevention classes informing families on HIV, Malaria prevention, family planning, STD transmission, early childhood development.

    Data analysis of: birth rate in our area, reduced cases of diseases reported at the clinic, reduced infant accidents, improved infant care.

  • Impact


    Reduction of risk in childbirth will be demonstrated by decrease in complications and infant and maternal death rates. These are collected by midwives and enable us to track long-term trends.
    Permaculture and nutrition training will enable a decrease in malnutrition, a reduction in stunted growth cases and an improvement in community health. LBC members responsible for Health and Agriculture will monitor these changes in our 14 districts covering our whole community of 45,000 people.


    There is a risk that some women will not use the SMU and will continue to give birth in the villages. By demonstrating that we can feed them and use their time effectively we can mitigate this.
    There is a risk that women will not change their traditional ways of gardening. We will use traditional techniques to avoid cultural rejection of change. Finally, our starter packs will provide incentives for change.
    Our LBCs will be central in bringing sustainable change to the community.


    We will report through Newsletters, website and Facebook page. Showing change in the buildings and the permaculture garden. We will share stories of women with their babies, starter packs and pictures of the new gardens. We will report decreases in malnutrition, complications and unsafe births.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £35,600

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      Amount Heading Description
      £2,000 Assessment and design Architect and consultant costs
      £15,000 Construction costs Material and construction tools.
      £8,000 Labour cost Local builders salary for duration of construction
      £3,000 Fitting costs Fitting and furniture for new delivery room, waiting home kitchen and dormitories, compost toilets..
      £1,800 Garden development Permaculture officer cost for garden preparation, purchase of equipment and seeds
      £2,000 Bicycle Ambulances Purchase of Bicycle Ambulances and repairs insurance costs for transport of women from village/SMU
      £2,000 Training programme cost Trainer salary, programme resources,
      £1,800 Monitoring Evaluation cost Monitoring costs and Malawi, UK coordinator costs

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    Private donors £3,000 Conditional
  • Background


    This project is based in a rural area close to Kumuzu International Airport, Lilongwe. In 2014 AVM built a maternity unit in M’Bang’ombe to replace a dilapidated unit, serving a population of 15,000. At present most pregnant women give birth in their villages with Traditional Birth Attendants (TBA). We operate in a rural setting where very little transportation is available. TBAs only have basic training; if complications occur both mother and baby often die.


    Women will benefit from this project as they will have a safe place to give birth. The SMU will be a safe place for mothers to stay prior to labour. However an even bigger opportunity presents itself as a SMU would educate women and reduce the very high levels of maternal and infant mortality.
    The community will benefit from improved access to nutritious foods, thus reducing malnutrition, stunted growth and risks of disability and better food security.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    We have worked in the area for over ten years. Our partnership is embodied in the successful structure of Local-Based Committees that have supported the growth of self sufficiency and that have the trust of the local Chiefs. We built the new maternity clinic and ensured its staffing by training two Community Midwives. The local people know and trust our initiatives in permaculture. This project will be building on established success, with people who trust us, in a proven structure.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Fixon Phiri, AVM Outreach Manager And M'bang'ombe LBC Members.

    Fixon and the LBC Agriculture and Health officers will be involved in the implementation and management of this project.

    Gift Banda, Monitoring And Evaluation Officer

    Gift will be responsible for baseline evaluation and long term continued monitoring evaluation. He will be responsible for sending reports to HQ.

    Ida Mwangala, AVM Country Manager

    Ida leads our local team - she will be accountable overall for project success and the use of funds donated.

    SMU Health And Nutrition Trainer

    Will manage SMU training in nutrition, health and permaculture.