LGI is partnering with Hope Ministries International, a community driven organisation in Malawi, to support the development of agroforestry in Zomba district. The pilot project that LGI is funding is establishing community managed tree nurseries, as well as training in agroforestry for teachers at three schools in Zomba district. In the coming months, students in environmental clubs at the three schools will be invited to plant the tree seedlings at their schools, creating forest gardens. Students will also be encouraged to take their knowledge of agroecology home with them and be provided seedlings to plant at their homes.

Southern Malawi is facing a series of intersecting environmental crises that put the population at serious risk. The majority of Malawians live on less than US$2.15 per day and rely on rainfed subsistence agriculture to survive. This leaves them highly vulnerable to the increasing variability of rain due to climate change. Cyclone Freddy tragically demonstrated this in March of this year when extreme rains left hundreds of thousands homeless and devastated harvests. Extreme poverty and a reliance on wood for cooking has also driven mass deforestation across Malawi.

Agroforestry represents an innovative solution to the numerous challenges facing Malawi. Combining tree planting and agriculture can help revitalise damaged soils, while also building resilience to climate extremes such as drought and flooding.

Our colleague Sam was able to visit the nurseries and school in Namajoka village, after his mission to Malawi for the Focus Africa project. The community groups have already prepared 9000 local seedlings for planting in the coming weeks, and students presented poems and songs about trees to their classmates and visitors. The experience was full of song, dance, and hope for a greener future.