Bringing Permaculture to Schools in Malawi

By Towards a Better World on behalf of Empower Projects

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Hi, my name is Matt Napier. In June/July I will walk 1,860km from the southern border of Namibia, through the desert, along the infamous Skeleton Coast, all the way to the northern border with Angola.

Why? I believe that everyone deserves an equal chance at life and it's my mission to raise as much money as I can for projects aimed at helping communities affected by extreme poverty to become more self-reliant and overcome the devastating cycle of poverty. This is the latest of my amazing Walk to a Better World journeys and I hope that by putting my body on the line I will inspire others to make real long-lasting change to poor communities.

My goal is to raise at least $30,000 and fund two projects (this one and Access to safe drinking water and toilets in Zimbabwe) - sounds ambitious but then again so is walking across the Namib Desert!!

But I can’t do this alone, testing my mind and body to the limit is not enough, I need your help to make the journey a success.

Malawi: one of the poorest countries in the world

For this project, my aim is to raise at least $15,000 in order to support a school in rural Malawi to become more self-sufficient through learning about Permaculture. In partnership with development organisation Empower Projects, the school will be supported over a period of two years with the funds raised enabling the school to build their capacity for self-reliance across areas such as energy and water access, food production and sanitation. It will also serve as a platform for the practice of permaculture in the wider community.

The approach adopted by Empower Projects is focused on building local ownership and capacity as opposed to an emphasis on ‘outputs’ so this project will have a strong focus on training, development and ongoing support to ensure true sustainability. Students at the supported school will get to learn about the science of agriculture within their school yard while receiving food from it at the same time. Students will be trained in techniques such as companion planting, composting, mulching and land management (e.g. preventing erosion and trapping water).

Previous work Empower has facilitated in other areas of Malawi has shown increases in both enrolment and attendance as a result of the permaculture garden. Farmers that adopt these permaculture principles also enjoy the benefits of improving yields, greater crop diversity (and pest control) and cost savings (no fertilisers, GMO seeds or pesticides).

With your help we can empower Malawian communities to produce their own food in an ecologically sustainable way and end the cycle of poverty. It's an amazing project and I can't wait to see the results.

All funds raised will go directly to Empower Projects, as I am covering all the cost relating to the walk myself. So rest assured, every dollar you donate will have an amazing impact on the lives of some of the poorest people in the world.

Every little bit helps and every donation from $5 to $500 will make a real difference so please join me in creating a better world for those less fortunate.

Thankyou :)


Malawi is a poor country in southern Africa with a total population of 17 million. Although it has enjoyed peace compared to other countries in the region, Malawi was ranked third poorest country in the world in 2015. Due to it being a landlocked nation, although endowed with beautiful sceneries and generally good soils for agriculture, Malawi faces a number of development challenges. 80% of Malawi’s GDP is contributed by agriculture (tobacco and tea to be specific), but year in year out Malawians do not have enough food to feed themselves until the next season. Just like other countries in the region, Agriculture production is affected due to unpredictable rain patterns and poor agricultural methods. With a poor road network, poor and remote areas in Malawi become very vulnerable during rainy season because the roads are rendered impassable. This cuts out remote areas from trade and other important social service such as health services. Other challenges namely malnutrition among school children, hunger, financial poverty and poor sanitation are exacerbated by climate change and increased deforestation.


Permanent culture (Permaculture) is a proven ecological design science that outlines an approach to living, which takes its inspiration from nature. Its goal is to feed, house and create economic opportunities in an inspiring and environmentally responsible way. It is a philosophy and development strategy that weaves together climate, plants, animals, building design, soil, and water and energy management into cohesive sustainable social systems.

Permaculture applies techniques and principles from ecology, cooperative economics, appropriate technology, sustainable agriculture, and the wisdom of indigenous people to create sustainable human environments, at home, at work, at play, and in our communities. As such, the promise of Permaculture extends far beyond food production systems to explore new potentials and horizons for a sustainable life on Earth.

Read more about Permaculture in Empower’s blog: Permaculture to Feed the World


Empower are committed to working in solidarity with communities to support their development aspirations, and are committed to suggesting approaches to development that will serve the communities needs in the long run. They see an obsession with short-term outcomes as being self-defeating as it does not authentically serve the needs of the community and is often disempowering as it creates dependency on external agents. So when they are working with communities, their aim is to explore development solutions that work with local ecosystems AND empower local communities to be self-reliant. This is why permaculture is a perfect fit and why we have chosen them as our partner on this project.

It’s amazing what’s possible if people are invited to participate and lead. Particularly as permaculture involves tapping into traditional agricultural practices that predate colonial practices.


If you'd like more information on the specifics of this program please contact me at and I'll be more than happy to discuss it with you in greater detail :)

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Matt Napier