What we do

At The CIFA Trust we believe in bringing about real and lasting change. We know there are many lessons out there of how not to do things and we want to get things right. That’s why, at The CIFA Trust, all of our work is based around three principles:

  1. Ensuring the initiatives we support are determined by the people and communities that will ultimately benefit;
  2. Ensuring we design and implement any activities in a way that they continue to benefit people over the longer term; and
  3. Working with a smaller number of communities and households at any one time so that what we do will truly transform people’s lives.

Our current programme of work

The current focus of our work is on supporting smallholder farming communities in Mzimba District, northern Malawi, to be able to earn a higher income to better meet the needs of community members. In particular, using this approach we hope to see more children able to go to and complete their secondary education.

We will do this by supporting farmers to achieve their goals of producing higher quality and more consistent crops year round and to sell them for a higher price by selling as a group direct to local markets.

Following significant engagement with local experts, stakeholders and communities, The CIFA Trust secured funding to launch this project in May of 2022, led by our partner on the ground Ungweru . The first 6 months of this project have included undertaking geological surveys, hosting partnership meetings, collecting baseline data and providing ‘Crop Starter Packs’.  In the coming months we hope to purchase and install solar powered irrigation systems for the communities to enable them to plant and grow crops outside the rainy season. 

CIFA and the Ungweru Organisation are indebted to a number of Charitable Trusts and Foundations as follows who are enabling this project to happen on the ground:

The Corra Foundation

The Paget Trust

WF Southall Trust

MJB Trust

The Souter Foundation

The Morel Trust

Christadelphian Meal-a-Day Foundation

George Heriot’s School Edinburgh

You can help us turn this project into a reality by pledging your support here.

Recent initiatives

Read below for a brief timeline of some of the latest work The CIFA Trust has supported.

2019: Bringing solar irrigation to the people of Jailosi and Chenda Mhlanga

In 2019 with just a few thousand pounds, we helped bring a significant change to the people of a rural village in Mzimba District by helping them procure, install and manage a solar irrigation system.

With this system, farming households that previously depended on the success of one main crop per year (November to May) will be able to grow new crops all year round (like these cabbages in the photo!)


2018: Needs assessment: “Piloting a production to market approach” 

In June 2018 we asked a local agronomic expert from Mzuzu, Prof. David Munthali, to meet with communities we had worked with in an earlier project (see below) to find out more about their wish to scale up their farming activities.

Most households in the area typically produce one main crop each year, selling some after harvest to earn money and then consuming the rest until it runs out.

The needs assessment provided a wealth of information about the crops the farmers wanted to produce, specific local buyers they could sell to in bulk, and the prices they could get. This assessment has since informed the development of our latest project that we are seeking funds for (see above).

Community Meeting

2015-17: “Strengthening citizen participation for food and nutrition security”

In 2015 The CIFA Trust was awarded £57,600 through the Scottish Governments Small Grants Scheme. The funding was used to strengthen the ability of 15 poor and marginalised rural communities in Mzimba District of Malawi to achieve lasting food and nutrition security.

Among the numerous activities carried out to achieve this included: establishing revolving funds for irrigation, improved seeds and fertiliser; training in climate-resilient agriculture; and facilitating access to local markets.

By the end of the project, household incomes increased by 42%, farmers were producing higher volumes of crops (e.g. sweet potato, sorghum and maize), and nearly twice as many women were running their own small businesses.

Our earlier work

For more information on some of our earlier work you can click here for a brief history of The CIFA Trust and how we got to where we are today.

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