When Jimmy, the executive director of Community Partnership for Relief & Development (COPRED), is asked how he became executive director 14 years ago, he simply replies, “I made myself available.” Availability is a theme that continues throughout his leadership and the organization’s work. Jimmy readily shares that COPRED’s greatest strength is the staff’s focus on making themselves available to hard-to-reach and overlooked communities.
As Jimmy goes into these communities, he does not take the seat traditionally offered to him as an honored guest. Instead he sits in the midst of the village members, symbolically tearing down barriers and increasing COPRED’s availability and accessibility. Jimmy recognizes that the people are the true leaders of the partnership, and at the end of each visit he asks that they take ownership of the work and hold COPRED accountable, ensuring a communal relationship.
THE COPRED — BLOOD:WATER PARTNERSHIP
In partnership with COPRED, Blood:Water has committed to contributing to the improvement of personal and family hygiene, sanitation, early childhood development, and HIV/AIDS prevention and care in the Neno District of Malawi.
Through organizational strengthening, Blood:Water empowers COPRED to engage the communities it serves with education regarding HIV prevention and WASH practices, as well as nutritional support. The organization emphasizes education for children, so they can contribute to their own development in the future. Early childhood development centers are often the entry point for COPRED’s work in Neno District communities.
Blood:Water emphasizes community ownership of the work it supports in Africa, and COPRED ensures that community members are involved in the planning process and implementation of its projects and operations. Specifically, the goals of this partnership are to:
Improve knowledge and construct facilities for personal and family hygiene, environmental sanitation, and HIV/AIDS prevention
Prevent nutritional deterioration among vulnerable populations, notably children and people living with HIV/AIDS
Strengthen collaboration with government departments and organizations providing services for early childhood development; water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH); and HIV/AIDS
COPRED was founded in August 2000, as a response to the needs of orphaned children and widowed mothers in southern Malawi. It has since expanded its mission to eradicate poverty and mitigate the negative impacts of the HIV/AIDS pandemic in Malawian communities.
Since its founding, COPRED has established partnerships in over 260 villages and has developed a Sustainable Livelihoods Development program, which includes an integrated approach to HIV care and prevention and the realization of WASH practices. COPRED intentionally targets vulnerable populations most affected by the HIV/AIDS and water crises, such as children, pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, orphans, and people living with HIV.
COPRED has been a Blood:Water partner since October 2017.
African nationalism in Malawi began in the early 1950s in opposition to British colonization. However, it did not gain momentum until after 1958 under Hastings Kamuzu Banda’s leadership, who led the country to independence in 1963. Not many years later Malawi was declared a Republic, and Banda was made president for life. After years of operation under a single-party government, the Alliance for Democracy and the United Democratic Front (UDF) emerged, eventually leading to the first free election in over 30 years. In 1994, Banda was defeated by Bakili Muluzi of the UDF.
Through the rule of Muluzi and his predecessors, including Bingu wa Mutharika, Joyce Banda, and Peter Mutharika, who is now president, the country has continuously struggled with economic and social progress, food shortage, and the HIV/AIDS crisis. In addition, fluctuations of government corruption have decreased the country’s ability to maintain incoming international aid.
Country Population: 19 million
National Language: English
Source: Encyclopedia Britannica, CIA Factbook 2017