Eco Schools for Eco Communities

Malawi has not only been affected by hunger and deforestation but also by climate change extremes, such as cyclone Idai in 2019. The Eco-Schools for Eco-Communities project aims to increase the climate resilience and food security in five school communities located in Southern Malawi, in Chikwawa and Thyolo districts, some of the most affected areas by cyclone Idai, seasonal flooding, dry spells, and hunger. The five schools will receive training workshops in agroecological farming, water conservation methods, and the construction and use of fuel-efficient rocket stoves, to support the transition of these schools to so-called Eco-Schools. An Eco-school provides healthy environments that are designed to meet the ecological, cultural, educational, nutritional, social, and other basic needs of the learners, teachers, and their families. The idea is to support a child’s development in a sustainable home and school environment. For more wholesome results we target not only the schools but also the surrounding communities to transition into eco-communities. The overall aim is to guarantee food security. To implement the project we are working together with our partners MAWO and Perm-A-Outreach. 

To start the project on the right foot, the community was coming together with some of the teachers, to perform a community- and school mapping. 

The school mapping exercise

We integrated the school mapping exercise into the regular community mapping to give the teachers a voice too. The aim of the school mapping was to identify the starting point for the schools before transforming into Eco-schools.  By mapping the school ground, it became clear to the teachers and community members, that the schools often arent designed in an ecologically sound manner. Often huge areas of ground were uncovered and bare. Especially in Chikwawa, schools relied on school feeding programs instead of growing their own food in the school ground.  We are aiming to transform the schools and surrounding communities through the training. The mapping was the first step in the right direction of a changed mindset. 

                                         Teachers exploring the school ground before designing a map of the school premises. 

The training sessions

During the community mapping exercise, each of the communities and schools has decided on topics they would like to be trained in.  The first training was on nursery establishment and fruit gardens. If communities want to plant with the start of the rainy season, they have to start their nurseries now. Topics of the permaculture food forest training were: 

  •  What is a nursery and how to establish one?
  • How to choose the perfect spot for a nursery?
  • How to sow seeds?
  • What is involved in shadind and watering a nursery bed, and why is it importanta?
  • Everything you need to know about seed
  • Seed production practices
  • Community seed banks
  • Soil- , water- and waste management techniques
  • Manure making



The pictures show the community and school members in Chikwawa during the permaculture food forest training. 

Upper left: Participants learn about the benefits of layering and how nature naturally uses layers as a support system.

Upper right: Participants making BOCASHI, a form of organic manure.

Middle: Participants in Pangani proudly presenting their seedlings.

Left: Clearing a water passage to the garden/nursery in Pangani.

Right: Established nursery.

Down: Participants digging a pit and mulching the school ground.