Organic farming: From the school to the communities

In Ng’ongo, a remote village in the north of Malawi, the village community, supported by ASUD (Action for Sustainable Development), started to establish a permaculture garden at the school four years ago. Thanks to this garden, school absenteeism has strongly decreased and the performance of the pupils has increased.

Malawi-Permakultur-Schulgarten

Organic farming: From the school to the communities

In Ng’ongo, a remote village in the north of Malawi, the village community started to establish a permaculture garden at the school four years ago. This project was supported by ASUD (Action for Sustainable Development). Thanks to this garden, the students are better nourished and, as a consequence, school absenteeism has strongly decreased and the performance of the pupils has improved. The school produces the required compost itself by means of the manure produced by the pigs. The mothers of the school children are also involved. They have organised themselves in clubs and have been learning organic farming techniques through their work in the school garden. Today, these women also have permaculture gardens at home, from which they can harvest vegetables for a balanced diet. They support each other and pass on their knowledge to other families in their villages. In less than three years, a holistic project has been developed which now serves as a model for other communities.

Photo report about the project in Malawi

Malawi Permakultur Schulgarten

Ellen Magawa, teacher at the primary school in Ng’ongo in northern Malawi, is teaching her students how to make compost. For this purpose, they dig pits which are filled with the compost material, covered and left to rest. They will later use the compost in the school garden and the organically produced vegetables will provide the common school lunch.

Malawi Permakultur Schulgarten

This project started with a small school garden that was to provide the pupils with balanced meals at school and, in turn, was to enable them to learn better. Today, the garden with vegetables, medicinal plants and pest-repellent plants has become both a source of food and a place of training.

Malawi Permakultur Schulgarten

Pigs are kept on the school premises and their manure is an important ingredient in the compost. These pigsties in this foto are part of the demonstration farm at the school in Ng’ongo and are at that moment being visited by members of the Ministry of Agriculture and the principals of other schools with the aim of exchanging know-how about pig farming.

Malawi Permakultur Schulgarten Schweine

The mothers of the school children also take care of the pigs and thus learn everything important for their own pig farming. Back in their communities, they put what they have learned into practice independently. Pig farming is not easy, the pigsties must be well built and maintained and the pigs must be expertly cared for. In Ng’ongo there has already been some success in breeding.

Malawi Permakultur Schulgarten

Ellen Magawa has been involved in the project from the start and she says: “This project has been our project from the very beginning. We were asked what we wanted to implement and how we wanted to do it. We were given the opportunity for further training in permaculture so that we could gain the necessary know-how. In this way the school garden has become the heart of the project and everyone involved has realised that with their commitment they can considerably improve the situation of their family and of the whole community”.

Malawi Permakultur Schulgarten

Around 400 children from the area attend the primary school of Ng’ongo. On the open doors day there is a lot of activity on the premises: everything must be shown and seen, the school and the school garden as well as the pigsties.

Malawi Permakultur Schulgarten

The school had no well for a long time and the children had to bring the water for drinking, washing their hands and for the plants from far away. In 2018, EcoSolidar supported the construction of a school well, making it possible for the school and the community to obtain their own water. Especially in the current corona crisis it is very important to have enough clean water for drinking and for following the measures of hygiene.

Malawi Permakultur Schulgarten

Vegetables are planted in the school garden to provide the children with a balanced meal every day. This is to combat malnutrition and prevent school absenteeism since hungry children often do not come to school at all or can hardly concentrate. The knowledge of organic farming techniques has also increased the children’s and their mothers’ knowledge about healthy eating. Since the women now have such gardens at home, they can better feed their families and, in addition, share the skills they have gained with other farmers. 

Malawi Permakultur Schulgarten

Visitors to the clubs of lead and follower farmers who cultivate their own organic permaculture gardens in the villages around Ng’ongo, will always be welcomed with dancing and singing. Here Thomas Ngwira, our project partner and managing director at ASUD, and the project officer are joining in the dancing!

Malawi Permakultur Schulgarten

The mothers who regularly work in the school garden and attend courses on organic farming techniques and permaculture take their new skills home with them and pass them on to other farmers. Towera Chawula, a lead farmer, supports a group of women in their village community in establishing their own permaculture garden. Here she is advising Witness Ngwira on problems in her garden.  

Malawi Permakultur Schulgarten

In the villages, the families are now also producing their own organic compost and are having good results with it. Thus they are less dependent on artificial fertiliser, which is expensive and harms the soil in the long term. The permaculture techniques also help them save water. For the farming families, the different methods of organic cultivation are crucial for a good harvest and for their economic independence.

Malawi Permakultur Schulgarten

These women are part of a club in which the lead farmers pass on their acquired knowledge about nutrition, pig farming, compost production and organic farming to the follower farmers. Apart from the numerous advantages for the food situation and the economic independence of the families as well as for the school performance of the children, learning together in the communities is also great fun!

Malawi Permakultur Schulgarten

The two follower farmers grind their own organic maize in their village. After milling the white maize is processed into N’sima, a kind of thick polenta. The polenta is served with a sauce and is the most important staple food of the families.

Permaculture School Garden against Hunger

Permakultur Schulgarten Malawi

PERMACULTURE SCHOOL GARDEN AGAINST HUNGER

Our partner organisation ASUD cultivates a permaculture school garden in Ng’ongo, Mzimba, in northern Malawi. ASUD’s aim is to reduce hunger and malnutrition through the promotion of organic farming methods.

Hunger and malnutrition are widely spread in the rural area around Ng’ongo. Our partner organisation ASUD (Action for Sustainable Development) cultivates a permaculture garden at a school in Ng’ongo with around 450 pupils. The yield of the garden ensures balanced meals for the children which is an incentive for school attendance.

At the same time, the garden serves as a demonstration field and training location: Here, the local community learns how hunger and malnutrition can be reduced through locally available means and with little money. Local vegetables and fruits with a high nutritional value are cultivated and promoted since local varieties are more resistant to the impacts of climate change. Further, ASUD teaches how to produce organic fertilizer as an alternative to expensive chemical fertilizer. A piggery serves as a source for the fertilizer.

In 2018, ASUD built a borehole next to the school, which makes it much easier to maintain the garden. The water is also used for drinking, cooking, cleaning and for daily hygiene such as hand washing.

In the community around Ng’ongo, ASUD initiated 15 permaculture clubs. The members of these clubs support each other in applying the newly acquired knowledge and in cultivating their own permaculture gardens.

THOMAS NGWIRA

Director ASUD, Malawi

“I personally love working with rural communities, particularly with women and children, in solving problems related to food security, nutrition and environment. I have learnt that investing in women benefits everyone in a household as they are directly responsible for the family welfare and that children keep what they learn and the knowledge benefit is long term.”

Fotoreportage

Training center for organic farming

Small farmers are trained to improve the nutritional situation of their families and to diversify through locally available means. ACAT imparts knowledge of permaculture, water collection systems, preserving soil cultivation, storage of seeds and the keeping of poultry. Through the acquired knowledge the households can build upon diversified food sources with low cost investments to secure their basis of life. The dependence on expensive hybrid seeds and aggressive pesticides is thereby prevented. In the long term the trained men and women share

TRAINING CENTRE FOR ORGANIC FARMING

ACAT promotes organic farming in Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) in order to enable the poorest households to improve their livelihoods.

Small farmers are trained to improve the nutritional situation of their families and to diversify through locally available means. ACAT imparts knowledge of permaculture, water collection systems, preserving soil cultivation, storage of seeds and the keeping of poultry. Through the acquired knowledge the households can build upon diversified food sources with low cost investments to secure their basis of life. The dependence on expensive hybrid seeds and aggressive pesticides is thereby prevented. In the long term the trained men and women share their acquired knowledge in their communities in the regions of Shiselweni and Lumbombo.

In Mbuluzi ACAT runs a research and training centre in organic agriculture with a 0.2 ha permaculture and demonstration garden: various cultivation methods and seeds are studied here. At this centre, ACAT organises training courses for smallholder farmers and organisations working on organic farming. The concept of organic farming is thereby promoted and spread in the region and the independence of farmers is strengthened. In 2018 the sleeping facilities in the training centre were expanded.

ACAT promotes local maize varieties as an alternative to genetically modified and hybrid crops. The maize varieties are planted at the training centre, examined, multiplied and finally resold at an affordable prize to the smallholder farmers The dependence on expensive hybrid seeds is thus prevented.

Enock Dlamini – Acat Partnerprojekt

Enock Dlamini

Director ACAT, Eswatini

“ACAT Swaziland promotes a greener and healthier basis of life for small farmers in Swaziland”

Food Security for Farmers with a Disability

KODO’s aim is for disabled people to become mobile and to achieve higher financial independence, food security and to find a place in society. Since 2013, when EcoSolidar organised a knowledge sharing between the partner organisation LOMADEF and KODO, EcoSolidar has supported KODO in the area of organic farming.

Food Security for Farmers with a Disability

In Salima, Malawi, KODO empowers disabled farmers in their mobility, income generation and in food security.

KODO’s aim is for disabled people to become mobile and to achieve higher financial independence, food security and to find a place in society. Since 2013, when EcoSolidar organised a knowledge sharing between the partner organisation LOMADEF and KODO, EcoSolidar has supported KODO in the area of organic farming. Since then disabled farmers continue to learn the techniques of composting and agroforestry and have been supported in implementing them by KODO. The organic farming methods are suitable for disabled farmers to farm despite their poor financial resources, as they don’t have to spend a lot of money on hybrid seeds and chemical fertilizers. For people with a disabilities and their families this is a significant step towards independence. KODO supports 150 families in 5 communities around Salima each year.

George Chimpiko - KODO Partnerprojekt

George Chimpiko

Director KODO, Malawi

I was born with a clubfoot and can understand the difficulties of people with a walking disability very well. That is why I, as managing director of KODO, concentrate on this target group. I am very happy that we can contribute to their food security. This fulfils my dream of supporting people with a walking disability”

Organic farming for an independent Future

The farm was built collectively by 40 farming families. Over the years a training centre with 69 clubs has developed. These clubs consist of women and men from different communities in the region.

ORGANIC FARMING FOR AN INDEPENDENT FUTURE

In Matale, Malawi, our partner organisation LOMADEF runs a training centre for organic farming and a demonstration farm.

The farm was built collectively by 40 farming families. Over the years a training centre with 69 clubs has developed. These clubs consist of women and men from different communities in the region. They either come to the training centre to attend courses in locally adapted organic farming or a specialist of the farm visits them in their communities for workshops.

The aim is for the farmers to increase their food production. Not only to generate income but also to fight the food shortages in the area. LOMADEF explores sustainable methods of farming, cultivates its own seeds and imparts methods of composting and irrigation. As a result the participating farmers are no longer dependent on food aid, expensive hybrid seed and chemical fertilizer and pesticides, but can live from the yield of their sustainably managed soils and are able to sell their surplus.

Henderson Chiliza

Director LOMADEF, Malawi

We promote organic farming so poor families can learn about low cost methods of farming and improve their living standard.”

Fotoreportage

A new perspective through organic farming

The indigenous Bunong community in Mondulkiri is affected by land-grabbing through international rubber companies. The loss of their land spreads hopelessness and causes social problems. In organic farming the indigenous people find an alternative way to secure their livelihood as well as hope for the future of their community.

A new perspective through organic farming

Our local project partner BIPA (Bunong Indigenous People Association) promotes organic farming among the indigenous Bunong community in Mondulkiri, Cambodia. In organic farming, the smallholder farmers affected by land-grabbing find a new perspective.

The indigenous Bunong community in Mondulkiri is affected by land-grabbing through international rubber companies. The loss of their land spreads hopelessness and causes social problems. In organic farming the indigenous people find an alternative way to secure their livelihood as well as hope for the future of their community.

Our partner organisation BIPA provides the farmers with technical know-how in organic farming. BIPA advises them on producing and on marketing of cash crops such as pepper, sacha inchi (Inca peanut) and coffee, as well as on producing compost and organic pesticide. They learn how to successfully cultivate the little land that remains to them and are strengthened in their independence from expensive chemical products. In Bousra, BIPA set up a demonstration farm where seedlings are produced and new cultivation methods are investigated. BIPA’s employees are all Bunong. Their work strengthens the community and creates a new future perspective for the farming families.

Neth Prak

Executive Director BIPA, Kambodscha

„As a grassroots civil society organization created by the Bunong themselves, we have the mission to strengthen the self-help capacity of the Bunong people to solve the pressing land conflicts, enhance the sustainability of their livelihoods and to improve access to education for the Bunong youth. It is one of our strengths that our team, consisting of Bunong people, shares the everyday life of affected communities. That is why we gain knowledge of their needs and together with them we find ways to support them best.”

Education and a Better Future for Children in Need

In the region around Kampong Cham apprenticeships are urgently needed. BSDA (Buddhism for Social Development Action) runs its own social enterprises and provides apprenticeships in the fields of mechanics, electronics, tourism, gastronomy and beauty care.

Education and a Better Future for Children in Need

Our partner organisation BSDA works in Kampong Cham with children and youths from extremely poor and broken families. The various educational programmes offer young people opportunities and positive prospects for their future.

In the region around Kampong Cham apprenticeships are urgently needed. BSDA (Buddhism for Social Development Action) runs its own social enterprises and provides apprenticeships in the fields of mechanics, electronics, tourism, gastronomy and beauty care.

In the “Smile Institute” live around 100 vulnerable children and youths. 11 of them are affected by HIV/AIDS affected and attend the nearby primary and secondary school. The others do not have sufficient primary education and have dropped out of school because they grew up in extremely poor and broken families. Around half of them are girls. In the first six months they attend the “preperatory school”, where they catch up on basic education. Subsequently, they complete an apprenticeship during one year.

The “Smile Restaurant” is such a social enterprise that serves as a training workplace for future cooks and service employees. Since this concept has proved its worth, the “Hanchey Bamboo Resort” was opened in 2018, an ecological retreat centre for local and international guests. Young people can complete an apprenticeship in gastronomy and hotel business here. The construction followed ecological and social standards and promoted directly the development of the surrounding villages. The “Hanchey Bamboo Resort” is ecologically and socially sustainable. The BSDA educational programmes are co-financed by the income from the social enterprises.

Particularly poor families receive scholarships so that their children can attend school. In two drop-in centres, the organisation offers tutoring and leisure activities. The dance and music courses are very successful and contribute significantly to strengthening the children’s self-confidence. English and Chinese courses are also offered at a local school and pre-school children are looked after in two kindergartens.

Vandong Thorn

Director BSDA, Kambodscha

“BSDA has been successful at developing strong and positive relationships with the communities where we work. Our mission is to work together to empower vulnerable people, promote compassionate engagement and enhance the quality of life, especially for women, children and youth, through education, health and livelihood development initiatives.”

Empowerment of Women Experiencing Violence

SIEDS counsels women in threatening situations in the crisis intervention centre in Bangalore and offers temporary protection to women and their children in the women’s shelter in Kolar

Empowerment of Women Experiencing Violence

Our partner organisation SIEDS fights for a nonviolent environment for women and men in Bangalore, India, and strengthens women in their self-determination. The SIEDS-Collective promotes awareness and will not give up until the situation of women has improved.

SIEDS counsels women in threatening situations in the crisis intervention centre in Bangalore and offers temporary protection to women and their children in the women’s shelter in Kolar. The counselling of SIEDS is resource-oriented and holistic. In the long term SIEDS empowers women to reject different forms of violence in their households and in society. SIEDS strengthens the position of women by promoting their self-organisation in groups in the suburbs of Bangalore. SIEDS includes the civilian population in the discussions about violence and equal rights and holds the government and responsible institutions accountable for gender discriminating laws and practices. The prevention campaigns of SIEDS increase the awareness of those concerned, the public and the authorities for the problem of dowry violence, selective abortion of female foetuses and the lack of security for women in public space. An effective fight against domestic violence and to promote gender equality requires – just as in Switzerland – a lot of time, and a constant multidimensional commitment. It includes immediate crisis interventions in cases of violence, a long-term strengthening of women and prevention and sensitizing campaigns to give impulses to social norms, official practices and the legal basis not to tolerate violence against women and to promote gender equality. This is exactly what SIEDS fights for.

Mamatha Yajamman

Counselor SIEDS-Collective, India

“One of the basic principles underlying the community work is the belief that a woman has the right and ability to make decisions about her life; our role is to facilitate this decision-making process.”

Circus as an alternative for socially vulnerable children

Besides circus trainings in various districts VIDA NUEVA also organises public performances to motivate the children and young adults to participate regularly. One condition for participating in the circus project is a regular school attendance. The project therefore also provides educational work and gives the children and youths future prospects. The circus creates a social community and a safe space where they can spend their free time in a meaningful, positive and healthy way.

Sozialer Zirkus Costa Rica

Circus as an alternative for socially vulnerable children

The circus project CIRCO FANTAZZTICO run by our partner organisation VIDA NUEVA offers children and youths coming from poor districts of San Isidro, Costa Rica, an alternative to gang crime and gives them a new perspective in a difficult social environment

Besides circus trainings in various districts VIDA NUEVA also organises public performances to motivate the children and young adults to participate regularly. One condition for participating in the circus project is a regular school attendance. The project therefore also provides educational work and gives the children and youths future prospects. The circus creates a social community and a safe space where they can spend their free time in a meaningful, positive and healthy way.

The experience of the previous years has shown that the artistic project of VIDA NUEVA provides an opportunity to the children and youths to improve their physical abilities and their social competence. Thereby they gain self-confidence and develop independence as well as team spirit.

Through their social preventive and artistic achievements CIRCO FANTAZZTICO has attained national and international recognition, which gives the artists the opportunity to show their skills at festivals and tours outside of Costa Rica. So far they have been to Switzerland five times. This international success is a high motivation for all the children and youths that have found an alternative to criminalisation in the CIRCO FANTAZZTICO. If you want to experience the CIRCO FANTAZZTICO live, the troupe will be back on tour in Switzerland this year!

Roland Spendlingwimmer

President VIDA NUEVA, Costa Rica

“For me Circus is a philosophy of life strongly linked to aesthetic and ethical values. The experience of solidarity, freedom and tenderness as well as the total absorption in the artistic performance are all elements that help to develop a self-confident, emancipated and open-minded personality.”

Support for indigenous students in the city

The number of young indigenous people that leave their families to pursue their studies in the city of Puerto Maldonado has constantly risen during the last couple of years. For them and for their families this provides an opportunity to graduate and to be able to live a better life. However, the rate of students dropping out of college has increased significantly.

Support for indigenous students in the city

More and more young people from indigenous communities in the Peruvian Amazon region move to Puerto Maldonado for a higher education. Once arrived in the city, many of them face existential problems. Our partner organization FENAMAD supports these young people in their everyday life so that they are able to finish their studies.

The number of young indigenous people that leave their families to pursue their studies in the city of Puerto Maldonado has constantly risen during the last couple of years. For them and for their families this provides an opportunity to graduate and to be able to live a better life. However, the rate of students dropping out of college has increased significantly. Most of the indigenous families don’t have stable incomes and are poor. In consequence, many students face poor living conditions, they lack a healthy diet and the support and orientation that they would need to pass the exams. In addition, the discrimination of indigenous people and social problems such as crime, prostitution and a lack of leisure opportunities are substantial.

The student residence, which was renovated by FENAMAD together with the young people, offers the students a sheltered space where they can live and learn. A psychologist looks after them individually and supports them in strengthening their self-confidence and in developing plans for their future. They also receive extra tuition and can attend artistic workshops. With the support of this project we do also want to counter the following problem faced by our partner organization FENAMAD: International Organizations are clearly prioritizing projects for the protection of the rain forest and projects for the defense of the rights of indigenous people.  These projects are, without a doubt, very important. However, problems of indigenous people in the urban environment do barely gain attention by international organizations and it is very difficult for FENAMAD to find financial resources for such projects. EcoSolidar decided to support this project because it responds to an urgent need expressed by the affected population that has been ignored so far.

Julio Cusurichi

President von FENAMAD, Peru

„The main objective of FENAMAD is the defense of the rights of indigenous people to self-determination, territory and cultural identity. For us it is a priority to include the young indigenous people of our communities in our activities since its them who inherit our history and on whom the future of our peoples depends.”