Malawi’s volatile climate presents serious challengers to its people. Eight months of drought have been followed by devastating floods, killing 176 people and displacing up to 200,000.
Many blame the destruction on industry’s pursuit of charcoal and firewood and the large-scale destruction of indigenous forests to grow crops of maize. And Malawians are beginning to alter how they interact with their environment in reaction to this, inspired by a ‘marginal hippy movement’ called permaculture.
Writing in The Guardian, Pierre Moorsom of the African and Moringa Permaculture Project provides a fantastic introduction to how permaculture is already helping alleviate poverty and hunger in Malawi, as well as the scale of the movement’s potential if it were to be adopted by the mainstream development industry.
Below are just a few of the permaculture projects that are already up and running in Malawi.
Organic Gardens at Lukwe EcoCamp
These edible gardens are landscaped to produce a diverse plethora of organic food stuffs all-year round, while also utilising key permaculture principles to care for the surrounding environment, its inhabitants and its eco-system. Pierre Morsoom calls it “one of the best examples of well-established passive water harvesting systems in Malawi.”
Kusamala Institute of Agriculture and Ecology
Kusamala is home to Malawi’s biggest permaculture demonstration site, Nature’s Gift Permaculture Centre. During demonstrations, Kusamala educates communities on improving nutrition, income generation and environmental health. Kusamala’s overall vision is “for all Malawian communities to have the ability and knowledge to creatively pursue their own path towards achieving food security and diversity, economic stability, and productive healthy environments.”
Never Ending Food
Never Ending Food is a permaculture home and food forest in Chitedze, Malawi. Here, they are building a ‘Model Village’. The vision of the project is to show the world that efficient utilisation of resources and nature protection can increase food supplies and nutrition security, with the extra bonus of being absolutely free.
“We are not using or doing anything here that the average Malawian does not have access to or cannot do,” say project leaders, Stacia and Kristof Nordin. “Everywhere around the world we humans waste resources. Permaculture is a holistic way of life that aims to make the most out of all of that nature has provided to us. The Model Village will be a place where tenants will grow their own, nutritious foods using low-input techniques, while at the same time developing an appreciation for chilengedwe (nature).”
The four key principles of permaculture:
- Working with nature rather than against it
- Thoughtful observation rather than thoughtless labor
- Each element should perform many functions, rather than one
- Everything is connected to everything else