Our Principles

Many development ideas are constrained by the way they are implemented;  they are often prescribed centralised rollout of projects that are not seen as relevant or adaptable locally.   We felt the key was to spark an interest in people and give them the necessary information so that they can carry out work relevant to themselves in their local environment. Scalability of the programme was central to its initial development

 

Furthermore, over 80% of Malawians live in rural areas, in a patchwork of villages, that are remote and inaccessible.  They are mostly subsistence farmers, there is very limited Government outreach and transport is very expensive, so if we want there to be a significant impact we must make learning available for them in their own location.  

 

We identified key factors during our pilot in 2015-16 which we felt were central to the success of the programme.  Some of these, training of teachers and production of supporting material and resources, became parts of the core programme we offered, and other less tangible ideas became key MSPC principles.  Self-selection and decentralisation, are integral to MSPC and we developed the programme to incorporate these principles.

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Self-Selection 

  • We wanted to find people who were truly interested and passionate to learn more.

 

  • We set out in detail our plans and what schools would receive.

 

  • We were clear about the responsibilities of the teachers and that they would be volunteers in the programme.

 

  • We developed an Open Day at Mkondezi F.P. School to highlight the programme and give the opportunity for new schools to join.

Three new schools signed up on that first Open Day which made it clear there was wider interest.  Signing up at another school's Open Day is the only way to join our core programme in  Nkhata Bay and we have new schools doing so each year. This process allows us to work with schools that are in remote locations by not requiring they travel to a central site. The greatest strength our self-selecting procedure adds to MSPC is that we get to work with schools and teachers that are active and motivated to apply permaculture and experience the life-changing differences it can make.

Decentralisation

Transport and communication are expensive and prohibitive in Malawi making them a massive constraint for many aspects of life; which is majority rural with limited outside assistance. Many opportunities and development projects are highly centralised which acts as a constraint to uptake and expansion.  We wanted to avoid these constraints and build on local links from the start by developing key parts of the programme to facilitate decentralisation.

  • Teacher Meetings  - each term teachers gather together to discuss the work they have been doing, share information and resources and iron out problems. These meetings are held on site at participating schools, giving the teachers the chance to see and discuss particular situations on the ground. We alternate the location each meeting, so all schools have a chance to show the work they are doing and invite contributions from other teachers on the programme. 

  • Clusters - As the number of schools expanded, the distance between them became so large that we were spending more time traveling  than actually providing assistance. This led to the idea of clusters, groups of schools in geographical proximity. The clusters include a mixture of old and new schools, and have the chance to frequently meet and share resources. By empowering teachers through the clusters, our core team can focus on strategic planning and we are able to expand into remote areas, knowing that our teachers can independently lead and collaborate.

  • WhatsApp Groups - All the teachers trained by MSPC are added to an overall Permaculture WhatsApp group for Nkhata Bay, a MSPC group, as well as their school's cluster group. We have found this particularly useful for schools to share ideas and solutions between one another, along with aiding in organisational communication. As the programme grows, we plan to introduce community WhatsApp groups to facilitate conversation between interested people surrounding the schools.

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Why Be A Part Of Our Programme?

  • Permaculture offers a sustainable alternative to dominant land use practices in Malawi, which rely on chemical fertilisers and monocultures with diminishing returns to local people and nature.

  • Clubs teach children environmental skills that are transferable to everyday life.

  • Permaculture clubs build capacity in sustainable, holistic approaches to subsistence farming, environmental regeneration and problem-solving.

  • They increase students’ intake and knowledge of nutritious foods.

  • They engage effectively with communities: teachers, learners, their families, and the wider community.

  • Clubs are low cost to start and run, and become community led.