The Challenge - Extreme climate, degenerated soil, and inability to afford seeds, inputs and capital equipment.
In the remote, rural areas of Malawi, more than 90% of the villagers rely on rain-fed subsistence farming to survive, and hunger is common.
There is only one “rainy” season each year - usually expected from November to March, and the single annual maize harvest depends on the quality of these rains. Maize is the major crop here, and the basis for “nsima” the staple diet, the thick, heavy, carbohydrate basis for most meals, usually eaten rolled in a little “relish” - a vegetable or meat accompaniment.
But the climate can be erratic, harvests poor and hunger widespread. So how do we help?
The Challenge - Long-term deforestation due to total reliance on trees for domestic fuel, building and brick-burning
Deforestation is a major challenge in Malawi, largely overlooked in the urgent rush to find food for today. However, it has widespread consequences, causing environmental damage—soil erosion/deterioration, excessive water evaporation, lack of protection from extreme climate events and the steady decline of wildlife habitats.
But the need for wood is relentless—it’s the only household fuel available in the rural areas for cooking, heating water for hygiene, burning bricks and providing timber for building construction. This natural resource is running out, and charcoal burning, though illegal, has decimated forests of indigenous hard-wood trees in mountainous areas, leaving the lower lands without protection from flooding and soil erosion.
So what are we doing to encourage reforestation?
Education & Training
The Challenge - Inability of many families to be able to afford education for their children
In Malawi, primary education is free, but Secondary education is only offered to the selected few, at a fee. Many teens, who have qualified by passing exams, fail to take up this offer because their families are so vulnerable, unable to afford even the basic necessities, so education fees are out of the question.
So these young people, crammed with potential, are left, sitting at home aimlessly, prone to fall into unhelpful relationships or crime.
So how do we help?
Community development needs fresh ideas and proven practices explored and adopted—our training helps....
A Helping Hand
The Challenge - Few jobs, little income in our target group, no welfare support so a high level of wide-spread poverty.
Our Primary Target Group:
Orphans, the elderly, those living with disabilities, and the AIDS-affected....
Life is tough in Malawi. “Help” comes in as many forms as needs expressed. Often we contribute in crisis situations, emergency food, roofs, school uniforms, or baby formula for a new-born orphan. Each item relieves a challenging situation and brings hope to a vulnerable family.
Help In Hunger
The Challenge - Widespread Hunger
Diminishing areas of family land, impoverished soil and erratic climate, all contribute to a poor maize harvest—the staple diet. Most families rely on what they can grow in the short annual rainy season, and inevitably their reserves run out long before the next crop has even been planted!
So how do we help?
The Challenge - Lack of Community Infrastructure
Nursery schools, without buildings and usually run by volunteers, are often held outside under a tree, but lessons are frequently disrupted by bad weather.
So we were asked if we could build a classroom...... but we decided to go a step further!
Also we’ve built bridges for safety, provided homes for vulnerable families, and built public, school and household toilets!
Water & Sanitation
The Challenge - Poor Water Supply
With only one rainy season a year and no storage infrastructure in the rural areas, water shortage is a common problem in this part of the world.
Village borehole pumps are the primary source of safe water. However, there are more community gravity-fed pipelines being run from local mountains, though these tend to lose pressure as the dry season takes hold. So, if borehole pumps break down, many have little alternative to collecting from open water, rivers, and hand-dug holes, potentially polluted, and seriously risking health. These challenges are multiplied in the lives of the frail and infirm, and water shortages and congestion can put women & girls—who traditionally carry water—at risk of violence, trafficking or abuse if they have to collect at night.
So how do we help?