A million trees for Malawi

Pansi-CM Malawi planting a tree

10 Feb A million trees for Malawi

by Sabine Joukes, chief of party, Enhancing Community Resilience Programme (ECRP), Christian Aid Malawi

A few days ago, members of the ECRP team and colleagues from Christian Aid Malawi drove out to Kauma, one of the main villages outside of Lilongwe, the capital city of Malawi.

People in Kauma live in modest dwellings, mostly brick houses with tin roofs. We saw a new sewer system developed next to the village over the past year.

But as we continued through the village something else was very clear.

All around it is bare.

There is hardly a tree standing. There was one old Kachere tree. Kachere trees are special, as people are not allowed to cut these down. But even this tree has only a few branches left.

This stark scene reflects the situation in many parts of Malawi, where deforestation is happening at an alarming rate, making its hills and mountains barren. When the rains come, nothing is there to stop the water. Last year, this contributed to the impact of massive floods which left more than 500,000 people homeless.

ECRP is aware that unless we tackle this very real issue, we cannot truly build the resilience of people living in the floodplains of Malawi or on those barren hills.

So an important part of our strategy, in the fifth year of the project, is planting trees. But this is planting trees plus…

People have planted trees before, in massive numbers. And yet, we see so little tree-cover surviving.

Together with communities, we are committed to not only planting trees, but protecting them for the years to come, so they can grow and give us their benefits – shade, ground cover, preventing erosion, retaining moisture in the earth and reducing water run-off.

On February 5th, with the community in Kauma, we planted more than 4,000 trees as a first step towards planting a million trees in ECRP target areas.

It is not ECRP alone that has taken on this massive undertaking. We have joined forces with our partners in the Act Alliance, Peace Corps volunteers from the US and the Youth Network for Climate Change. We have planted the trees together with the communities, and we have a joint responsibility to see that the trees survive.

When we arrived in Kauma, we all received tree seedlings, and found a pit in which to plant our tree. With our bare hands, we carefully covered the seedling’s fragile roots to give it the best chance of survival.

Thank you to all those who helped us on this first day – and to all those who will help us realise the planting and survival of a million trees. Here’s to a greener Malawi.

– Christian Aid and Concern Universal each lead a consortium for ECRP – an initiative to improve food security, reduce vulnerability and strengthen resilience. It reaches 600,000 people directly and up to 1.6 million altogether in 11 districts of Malawi prone to natural disasters and climatic hazards.

Running until 2017, the programmes work with local partners on early-warning systems and disaster risk management, village savings and loans (VSL) groups, conservation agriculture, small-scale irrigation, post-harvest management, agro-forestry, livestock, seed banks, and low-carbon technologies.

The goal is to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger and increase the resilience of vulnerable communities. This will enable households to build livelihoods that are sustainable and profitable, incorporating natural resource management and risk reduction, increasing adaptive capacity and enabling people to have a voice in decisions affecting them.

ECRP has received £21m in funding from UK aid from the UK Government, Irish Aid, and the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.