The Pasani Hill, in Mulanje, Malawi is a place of natural beauty, appreciated and admired by the local community. But in recent years, the beauty of Pasani Hill has dimmed, with more and more of its trees being cut down for fire wood.
The loss of trees on the hill has led to erosion which in turn has caused poor soil and reduced the production of crops. The local communities agreed that a solution was needed, and enlisted the involvement of the EU –funded KULIMA BETTER project.
Together, the Pasani Catchment Cluster Committee, and KULIMA BETTER – of which Self Help Africa are the lead agency – are reforesting Pasani Hill. To date, more than 10,700 trees have been planted and are being managed by the community.
Almost 90% of people in Malawi use firewood or charcoal for cooking so planting more trees to counteract this is vital. Another way to reduce this is by using fuel-efficient stoves which require far less firewood.
Village and community leaders are committed to taking care of and protecting these precious new trees. Bylaws have been whereby anyone found cutting down a tree will be fined $5. “These measures are being done to protect the hill so that future generations will benefit from its fruits,” explained village Headman Muliya.
This desire to protect the hill is further reflected in the selection of the trees for planting. Some of the trees, such as Acacia Galpinii and Acacia Polyacantha, help to hold the soil against heavy runoffs caused by rains. Other tree types have been planted to improve levels of soil nutrients in the hill.
Beekeeping has also been introduced as a way of protecting the Pasani Hill, further nurturing the wildlife within it and generating income for local people. In total, the project has 120 bee hives which have all been started this year. Additionally, soil-filled sacks have been used to reclaim gully erosion to great effect.
The community in Mulanje is proud of its restoration efforts and hope that its benefits and sustainable livelihoods will be enjoyed by many future generations. The KULIMA BETTER project aims to increase resilience, food, nutrition, and income security among smallholder farmers in Malawi.