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How trees and bees brought a community in Malawi together

A community in Malawi has found new ways to make a living while working together to protect the environment.

Written by Rachael Adams | 22 Sep 2022

Smiling woman sitting in a field of flowers holding a jar of honey

Gilberta, from Malawi, holds honey produced in her village. Beekeeping has meant the village can produce and sell its own honey. This income source is helping families to lift themselves out of poverty. Image credit: Alex Baker/Tearfund

Nearly 97 per cent of households in Malawi depend on wood or charcoal for cooking and heating. This has led to a huge deforestation problem; wildlife has dwindled and, with the trees gone, there is no protection from floods. Rivers regularly burst their banks during the rainy season, damaging people’s homes and washing away their crops. But the church had a plan – one that the whole community got behind. 

Tearfund’s local church partner ran a training programme with local leaders about deforestation and how caring for the environment would help to protect their community – particularly people living in poverty. 

‘In the programme we have Christians, Muslims and traditionalists, led by the local leadership, all working as one,’ shares Pastor Harold Chitseko.

‘And we all have one goal of making our area much greener through tree planting, as we are faced with the deepening problem of deforestation.’

‘The training we received has been enlightening,’ continues Sheikh Banda – a leader of the Muslim community. ‘Each and every person is aware of the need to stop cutting down trees as we owe the environment to the future generations.’

The training has strengthened ties across the community. It has also led to more than 63,480 trees being planted in the area. 

And there has also been another brilliant benefit.

In Southern Malawi where trees have been cut down, areas have been badly affected by flooding and hunger. Image credit: Alex Baker/Tearfund

A sweet reward

Having well-managed forests has meant that there are new opportunities for people to earn an income through beekeeping.

‘Already some enterprising communities are reaping the benefits of well-managed forests by setting up beekeeping projects,’ says Pastor Chitseko. ‘These are set to increase their income levels, and this is so encouraging to witness.’

Tearfund’s local partner is training communities in beekeeping and forestry management. The communities then receive beehives and protective garments such as overalls, gloves and gumboots, as well as buckets for packaging.

Not only are the forests thriving again, but the people are too. This is just the beginning of long-lasting change for this neighbourhood as they work together to lift themselves out of poverty. Please join us in prayer for this community, and for other churches across Malawi to follow their example of protecting the environment and people.

Pray with us

  • Thank God that different faith leaders have united to lead positive change in Malawi.
  • Pray for people who have set up beekeeping businesses and ask that they will find markets for their honey.
  • Pray that more local churches will address the problem of deforestation and help their communities to care for the environment in practical ways.

Written by

Written by  Rachael Adams


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