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The basic purpose of this project is to foster local community development at the same time as improvements are made to the local environment upon which the community depends for its well-being. 


The project described below is based on a partnership of three stakeholders who are critical for the implementation of this project.  One group of stakeholders are the villagers of Nankhunda and Nsanama living in close proximity to the Zomba Forest Lodge. These villagers will undertake much of the work needed to implement this plan but they will also be the main beneficiaries.  A second stakeholder is ZombaTreez who fundraise and help Nankhunda Transformation & other local groups implement local initiatives.  ZombaTreez have been active in forest restoration for several years.  See for what they have so far done. The third participating partner is the UK-registered poverty & hunger alleviation group Sustainable Global Gardens [reg. no. 1116243].  This NGO has more than a decade of successful implementation of agroforestry & horticultural innovation projects in East Africa, and has helped organize pilot schemes of similar projects in the Nankhunda & Nsanama locality.    The website indicates the type of projects where SGG has significant field and training experience.


All the actions proposed in this document have been successfully implemented previously in the Nankhunda-Nsanama locality.  However, those successes have been achieved only at a relatively small-scale.  The desire now is to greatly increase the scale of operations and number of beneficiaries. This requires a significant increase in available funding.  Such an increase in scale is also likely to need a longer time-scale, so a fouryear time frame is envisaged rather than the three years previously discussed.





Malawi is a peaceful but economically poor country. In the U.N. Human Development Index [HDI] it is ranked 172nd out of 193 countries.  Human Development Index and Reports published by show that most countries below Malawi are locked in political instability/war.  It is estimated that some 72% of the local population are living on less than $2.15/day with 80% of the population engaged in semi-subsistence farming.  The main food crops are maize, which rapidly drains soil fertility when grown under a mono-cropping system, and cassava, which can provide bulk food but is of low nutritional value.

The latest [posted April 11 2024] World Bank data mentions the following:

[for further details see Malawi Overview: Development news, research, data | World Bank ]

  • the anticipated 2024 national economic growth of 2.0% is a contraction in per capita terms given the expected 2.6% population growth;

  • inflation is expected to remain high and average 27.4% in 2024;

  • with heightened food insecurity, both from high food prices and shortages owing to anticipated lower agriculture output, poverty is expected to worsen in 2024;

  • the Reserve Bank of Malawi devalued the Malawi Kwacha against the US dollar by 25% in May 2022. This was followed by a further 44% devaluation against the US dollar in November 2023;

  • in 2022 the Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee projected that 3.8 million people, about 20% of Malawi’s population would go hungry between November 2022 and March 2023.  Cyclone Freddy in February-March simply made matters worse

  • crisis outcomes, supported by humanitarian food assistance, are expected to persist across most southern Malawi districts into 2024, driven by agricultural production shortfalls during the 2022/23 season, high food and non-food commodity prices, and disruption of livelihoods by impacts of tropical cyclones and unseasonal drought;

  • income [GNI] /capita in Malawi  is $640 compared to a global average of $12,871 and $45,290 for France.

The above figures are accurate as of April 2024 and illustrate the national economic context at the time of writing.  They refer to the national situation, but can be corroborated by SGG’s field visits in January 2023 & 2024 when local villagers regularly mentioned that they were hungry or in need of work/income.

How can these needs be best met?  For those interested in such issues, it is useful to refer to the World Food Programme’s Country Report for Malawi 2023.  See Annual Country Report | World Food Programme (  Here it mentions a 131% increase in food insecurity in 2023 and the need for humanitarian assistance for 2.5 million Malawians.  Concerning solutions to these difficulties it refers to Chapilira village in Nsanje district as an illustration of practicable actions, such as watershed management, restoration of agricultural land, regenerative agriculture.  Elsewhere the value of greater onfarm biodiversity through crop diversification & agroforestry, greater use of local crop varieties, increased composting, restoration of degraded ecosystems are all mentioned.  It should be noted that all of these actions have been undertaken by the SGG-ZombaTreez-Nankhunda Transformation partnership well before the publication of the above document.  We have good reason to think that we have the right strategies: our problem is that at present we can be active only on a small scale.




A multifaceted problem with poverty, hunger, employment-income, and environmental degradation issues all within the context of an increasingly hazardous climate requires several strategies which are distinct but interrelated actions.  In this particular case, we are proposing 6 actions which together will facilitate community development and at the same time improve environmental resources. As the great majority of the population in the project location are dependent on farming, it is evident that the main thrust of these various actions and most of the budget should be focused on improvements to small-scale farms. Also these villagers have to live through the ‘hunger months’ when crops are in the ground but not ready for harvest and last year’s harvest yield is constantly dwindling.  During such months there is a demand in this semi-subsistence economy for income through paid employment.  Solutions to both of these needs are necessary if poverty & hunger eradication, UN Sustainable Development Goals 1 and 2, are to happen in the Nankhunda-Nsanama locality.    


The 6 actions to be implemented between December 2024 and January 2029 are as follows:

  • 4 training courses of 5 days each on soil improvement methods, which will include deep bed tillage for  better soil aeration & water infiltration to facilitate crop growth, contour ridging to reduce surface runoff & soil erosion, composting to increase the organic content & fertility of soil, and interplanting so that a variety of crops can grow in the same plot.  It is anticipated that this SGG training will benefit 80 small-scale farmers, who will undertake practical training on their own farms;

  • the establishment of 3 new Demonstration Plots to illustrate the value of intensive horticulture & crop diversification combined with agroforestry.  Training is provided by SGG.  The general aim here is to improve nutrition, especially that of children, but there are also some specific targets.  Each Demonstration Plot should have 10 double-dug raised beds, 10 different fruits or vegetables growing on the plot, and at least 20 useful bushes/trees between & around the raised beds;

  • the construction of 250 double-dug raised beds on individual small-scale farms for crop diversification, especially increased production of vegetables.  This work is to be done by those trained during the establishment of Demonstration Plots.  The farmer will be asked to include at least 3 vegetables in each raised bed for better household nutrition, and to confine main crops [maize, cassava etc] to their fields.  Farmers will also be encouraged to plant fruits [e.g. pawpaw, bananas] around their raised beds;

  • each of the 15 conservation groups within the ZombaTreez-Nankhunda Transformation alliance will establish their own tree nurseries, with a target of 15,000 seedlings to be produced over a 3-year period.  These seedlings are to be planted on the farms of the members of each conservation group.  This is the largest action within this project portfolio, and with an anticipated total of 200,000 agroforestry trees planted it represents a significant landscape change for this locality;

  • the promotion of forest restoration in each of the ZombaTreez ‘conservation areas’.  There is some spot planting of wanted indigenous species in these areas, but most of the restoration is achieved by natural regeneration aided by clearance of weeds & fire suppression.  This work is undertaken by conservation groups, with each group receiving payment for their voluntary efforts.  This represents significant seasonal income for many villagers.  Such conservation work has been regularly done by ZombaTreez on the fringes of the Zomba Forest Reserve for the last several years.  However, in this particular project it is proposed to include small copses on villagers’ land so that biodiversity can be increased outside the Reserve.  Within this project there will be a single count of trees within each of the conservation areas and a single payment.   The estimated total of trees within such sites is between 50,000 and 75,000 trees;

  • the above forest restoration scheme is less than a decade old so many of the trees there are still young, less than 5 metres high and less than 25cms in girth.  However, there are also hundreds of mature trees with a girth of more than 40 cms, trees which are useful for carbon capture.  During this project period such trees can be counted, and those conserving the trees paid an extra dividend by clients wishing to offset some of their own carbon footprint.  At present it is not known how many carbon capture trees are available for voluntary carbon trading, but more important is the current need to find more donors wishing to sponsor this climate change mitigation.




As there are so many uncertainties about the future, the budget for this 4-year project can only be an estimate at £45,667 or 53,115 euros or US$56,770.  What we think we need for the December 2024- January 2029 period to ensure measurable and significant progress is the following:

  • 4 training courses on ‘How to make better use of your soil’                                    $5,300

  • establishment of 3 Demonstration Plots                                                                    $2,490

  • community outreach with 250 horticultural raised beds etc                                      $6,330

  • planting of 200,000 agroforestry trees                                                                     $33,000

  • tree counting & renumeration in conservation areas & copses                                  $8,000

  • carbon capture for climate change mitigation                                                           $1,250

  • final field monitoring                                                                                                   $400

  • project evaluation & report writing done at no cost by SGG                                         ---


The above must be considered as an approximate budget. The bulk of payments are made for surviving agroforestry seedlings several months after planting or for trees growing from natural regeneration, and both are subject to unpredictable weather events.  However, local farmers have so far often exceeded expectations. In such circumstances it would be sensible to accept the need to transfer funds from one budget item to another.   






The above is a summary of the proposed project as perceived by Sustainable Global Gardens.  What is written here needs to be modified by the stakeholders ZombaTreez & their local partners in Nsanama and Nankhunda villages.  It is hoped that these modifications can be made within the next month, so that we can engage in the crucial task of fundraising.


Concerning the securing of funds, the current situation is that $20,140 has been pledged.  This represents only 35.5% of the required budget, so a period of systematic fundraising is required until budget funds are secured.  However, it should be kept in mind that much of the funding will not be spent until the latter part of the project, and that the starting costs are less than the funds already acquired.  This aspect should not encourage fellow sponsors to go slow concerning this project.  The data gleaned from the World Bank and World Food Programme shows that food insecurity & economic poverty is endemic and environmental degradation widespread in Malawi.  For those concerned about these issues, now is the time to act.


Paul Keeley

Managing Director of Sustainable Global Gardens                                                               4th June 2024       

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