News / Africa

Malawi Primary School Plants Trees to Sustain School Feeding Program

Lameck Masina
For eleven years, the international NGO Mary’s Meals has been feeding young students.  Today, that list includes about 593,000 learners in 421 selected primary schools in Malawi.  Each day, they usually receive hot porridge made from maize flour mixed with salt and sugar.
 
The aim is to increase enrolment for children who fail to attend classes because of hunger in their families. 
 
Despite the program’s success in increasing primary schools enrolment levels, NGO officials say one of the major challenges facing the program is lack of firewood for preparing student meals. 

Students in Kanje school celebrate after eat porridge (Mary's Meals)Students in Kanje school celebrate after eat porridge (Mary's Meals)
x
Students in Kanje school celebrate after eat porridge (Mary's Meals)
Students in Kanje school celebrate after eat porridge (Mary's Meals)
Chloe Melrose is the Communications and Child Protection Officer for the NGO.
 
“The challenge," she says, "is that a lot of schools especially in the urban areas struggle to access firewood because in a lot of townships within the cities there is no space for trees, there is no space for vegetation. Almost every piece of land is built on so there is not much scope for trees there so these areas suffer in accessing firewood.”
 
Statistics show that an estimated 95 percent of the population in Malawi rely on firewood.
 
This has resulted in severe deforestation, with firewood consumption largely exceeding that of the sustainable supply.
 
Environmentalists say that once a densely populated space, now only 27 percent of total land area in Malawi is under forest cover. 
 
Melrose says to ease the problem, the NGO buys wood from designated plots, and delivers it to the schools. 
 
She also says since 2012 the NGO is constructing brick stoves in all school kitchens.  The new equipment uses on average use six kilograms less firewood per pot of porridge than the portable steel rocket stoves used in schools’ own kitchens.
 
Among the primary schools under the project is Kanje in the southern district of Chiradzulu.
 
Its head teacher Profit Matiti told VOA that the firewood shortage is compounded by the increase in children which has almost doubled after the introduction of the schools feeding program.

“Before the [schools] feeding program, " says Matiti, "there were only 200 learners but now the enrollment has gone up but at least half to 525.”
 
Matiti says it is against this background that has forced the school to find new ways of getting firewood, and using it efficiently.

In Malawi, students plant trees in the woodlot of Kanje primary school (Photo: Mary's Meals)In Malawi, students plant trees in the woodlot of Kanje primary school (Photo: Mary's Meals)
x
In Malawi, students plant trees in the woodlot of Kanje primary school (Photo: Mary's Meals)
In Malawi, students plant trees in the woodlot of Kanje primary school (Photo: Mary's Meals)
“We sat down with the schools management committee, schools administration and we introduced a way of establishing a woodlot. So as I am talking we have a woodlot which is just around the school to ease the problem of firewood so that we should not face problem with the [schools] feeding program,”  says Matti.

He says since the woodlot is a long term measure, the school is currently making do with dried branches of trees brought by well-wishers from areas surrounding the school. But he says sometimes students go without a hot meal due to a lack of firewood for cooking
 
Mary Meals run similar school feeding programs in 16 countries round the world including Haiti, Kenya, Zambia, India and Ukraine.

Listen to report on school feeding programs in Malawi
Listen to report on school feeding programs in Malawi i
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs