Deforestation is a huge problem in Malawi: in the last decade, over 30% of forests have been destroyed, leading to increasing numbers of extreme weather events, including droughts and floods.
In an area like Nkhata Bay North, where nine in ten people are farmers, the impact of deforestation is huge. Extreme weather events make it very difficult for people to grow enough food to meet their daily needs, leading to widespread hunger and malnutrition.
We run two projects under our Agriculture and Forestry programme: the Nkhata Bay Natural Resource Initiative, and the Nkhata Bay Natural Way, a Big Lottery Funded project which we run in partnership with the International Tree Foundation.
The overarching aim of both projects is to embed community stewardship of natural resources in the district. We work to achieve this by:
- delivering combined agriculture and forestry training;
- establishing tree nurseries of saplings which are then planted out into community forests and individual gardens;
- training farmers in sustainable growing techniques for crops such as maize and potatoes;
- educating people about alternative income-generating activities, such as beekeeping and fish farming;
- facilitating access to microfinance loans for individual entrepreneurs;
- working with local governance structures to ensure local ownership and widespread support for better agricultural and forestry practices.
Together, these two projects equip communities with the skills and knowledge needed to improve their livelihoods whilst conserving the local environment.