This project in Malawi’s central Mchinji district centres on working with one school (Mphanga Primary) and two agricultural cooperatives (Mtenjemanga and Mthiransembe)
Mphanga Primary School
Mphanga is a rural school of over 1,000 students in rural Mchinji. Like many rural schools in Malawi, most students come to school hungry and the school lacks basic infrastructure such as access to running water, energy services, and adequate sanitation. This is something we are seeking to change across our five year partnership with our school.
As of December 2020 we have completed an intensive permaculture training workshop that included 85 participants, a cross-section of staff, parents and students from the local community. This training centrered on permaculture principles, which were applied towards designing a local food garden. The primary objective being to grow produce that could sustain a school breakfast program while also improving local biodiversity and soil health. The next phase of this project will involve planting a mix of fruit and shade trees, and preparing school land for the establishment of the core inputs for a meal program – maize, soybeans and beans.
Complimenting the establishment of the school garden, this project will also involve access to solar electricity, the construction of eco-sanitation toilets, and a rainwater harvesting system. These are the critical components of our approach to improving student wellbeing in schools.
Mtenjemanga and Mthiransembe Cooperatives
These two agricultural cooperatives are situated in and around Mphanga Primary School, in fact the members are often parents of the children that attend the school. At present Mtenjemanga has 35 member households, while Mthiransembe has 23 member households.Our work with these two early-stage cooperatives will involve three phases.
1. Develop an action plan
A vision workshop was held in March 2020 to chart each cooperatives overarching vision and key goals across a five year period. This will guide each cooperative’s actions on the ground, and be continually revised as needed.
2. Build Capacity and Mobilise
Across 2021, we will be helping both these cooperatives to build their organisational skill and capacity by conducting training programs on cooperative governance, helping them register their cooperative as a legal entity, and providing advice on how they can grow their membership.
3. Invest and Scale
We maintain a revolving fund to invest in our partner cooperatives. This involves the provision of interest free loans to enable cooperatives to grow their organisations through strategic investments in production and marketing efforts e.g. seeds, fertilizer, machinery or labelling.