October 2021

Planting trees in Malawi

Planting trees in Malawi

Malawi is the country with the largest endowment of fresh water: but in spite that 20% of its land is
covered with water, the earth is arid for lack of trees.

The major causes of deforestation are the high
population increase rate (2.7% per year), the high density on land (203 people per square km) and a
very low access to electricity (11.2%). Practically everyone uses wood to cook, to keep warm, to build
houses, to have energy for rural activities or for industry.

Rotary Club Lilongwe-Lingadzi in the beautiful capital of Malawi (Distretto 9210,
https://rotarydistrict9210.org/clubs/malawi/) proposed a tree-planting service to RC Milano Nord-
Ovest in line with the Rotary objectives of protecting the environment and growing local economies.
The service focusses on helping local communities to plant and maintain trees.

This service supports the solution of some serious problems of Malawi:

  • deforestation (33,000 ha of forest are felled each year),
  • malnutrition and consequent stunting (39% of children suffer from it),
  • low school attendance (only 35% of children completes primary education),
  • very low woman empowerment.

    The objectives of this service are not only to plant 11,000 trees in 11 districts in 60 schools, 50 farmers’
    organizations, the Dzaleka refugee camp and the Don Bosco Technical Youth Institute of Lilongwe in
    collaboration with local communities and farmers’ organizations, but also to train participants on
    planting techniques and tree maintenance. The selected trees are a combination of fruit trees and
    other species following the 5F principle (food, fuel, fiber, fodder, fertilizers). The local partners are the
    Agricultural Commodity Exchange for Africa and local NGOs.

    Rotary Club Lilongwe-Lingadzi prepared training material to show the beneficiaries how to transplant
    and look after the trees, explaining the sustainable agriculture system of permaculture.

    It also identified local nurseries to source the seedlings in order to minimize the loss of plants due to long
    distance transport. On 1 st October RC Lilongwe-Lingadzi started to buy seedlings and distribute them to
    beneficiaries. During the month of Octobers, the plants will be watered to help them get established
    before the rain season which normally starts in December. Between November and March the survival
    rate will be monitored and evaluated and then the feasibility of a scale-up for the following season will
    be assessed.

    This service supports women empowerment, since over 60% of beneficiaries are women. The planting
    of 3,000 in 6 schools and in the technical youth institute allows not only to increase school attendance
    by supplying the pupils with fresh fruit and improve their diet, but also to instill the importance of trees
    at a young age and to reach their families with important information on the care of trees and
    permaculture. The choice of the overpopulated refugee camp, counting over 50,000 inhabitants, helps
    a group of people who have lost everything.

    The service started in July 2021 and is ongoing.
    Responsible for the project for our Club is member Barbara Martellini.