“Chilengedwe” is a Chichewa (Malawi’s national language) word that means "Nature", "Chilengiwa" in Tumbuka.

Oxford dictionary defines nature as, “phenomena of the physical world collectively, including plants, animals, the landscape, and other features and products of the earth, as opposed to humans or human creations.”

We chose to go by this name because our projects under the Nkhata Bay Natural Way (NBNW), basically centre on Mother Nature - as the name suggests. In our placement, we are tackling issues to do with deforestation, climate change, reforestation, forest management, agriculture, food security and agro-forestry.

For what are we really without nature? Our whole life from the very onset is dependent on it. We breath oxygen (air) from vegetation, we cultivate soil for food or other income generating activities, we get nutrition from the soil, people get employed and we get firewood, paper, charcoal, medicine, shade, etc from nature. So why do we continue to take selfishly from Mother Nature and never give back? 

Big modern cities keep springing up everywhere. As the population grows, so does pressure on natural resources. Thus, we continue to cause destruction with our daily habits. We cut down trees carelessly and cause soil erosion, silting of rivers, Air pollution, and dump waste everywhere. When we destroy nature, we trigger disasters, i.e. heat waves, hunger, food insecurity, famine, drought, floods and global warming. There is no more beautiful scenery, wild animals run away, no shade, inconsistent rainfall, and even when strong winds blow there is no barricade to keep us from harm. We destroy our own livelihood by bringing all this misfortune on ourselves.

Team Chilengedwe is working hand-in-hand with Temwa, a local Malawi organisation, to raise awareness on the importance of conserving nature and engaging communities in Nkhata Bay North to ensure its sustainability and improve their livelihood. This is done through the following ways:

  • Mobilising the target communities and helping them pot fill in preparation for tree seedlings that will be planted.
  • Encouraging farmers to plant trees on their farm land and around their homestead, as well as conserve the already existing ones.
  • Training farmers on recommended farming methods for crops, such as maize, cassava and potatoes.
  • Empowering communities to engage in alternative ways of generating income, like bee-keeping.
  • Helping assess the impact of climate change in Nkhata Bay North through surveys conducted.

As Goal 15 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) states to “Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts”, Team Chilengedwe is here to actively participate in “Protecting, restoring and promoting sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss.” Not only that, our project covers Goal 2 as well; “End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture” and also Goal 3; “Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.” Furthermore, we fight climate change in line with Goal 11; “Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.”

Generally, we aim to play our role in ensuring the 17 set of goals and 169 targets aimed at resolving the social, economic and environmental problems troubling the world are realised. A closer look at the goals will reveal that they are all interrelated and rely on each other. The success of one goal largely depends on the success of the rest of the goals seeing as they impact each other. The SDGs are very important because for the 15 years, they address the root causes of poverty and seek to leave no-one behind, including those in the rural areas like Nkhata Bay North.

Team Chilengedwe! We are part of the solution!

Written by ICS volunteer Blessings Mary Sibande