Putting ingenious ideas to work in
To give people living in one of world’s poorest countries the chance to thrive.
Malawi is a densely populated country with 80% of people living in rural areas. Agriculture accounts for a third of GDP with much of the country’s economy reliant on ‘cash crops’ such as tobacco. Climate change has made the country’s weather increasingly extreme, with floods and drought common. Only just over 10% of the population in Malawi (2% of those living in rural areas) is connected to the electricity grid.
Our Malawi HQ is in the country’s capital, Lilongwe. We also have a field office in Blantyre and another field office being set up in Mzuzu.
We are focusing our energy work in Malawi on implementing clean, sustainable and productive energy solutions for the millions of people who don’t have access to the national grid. As part of this work, we’re encouraging the use of clean solutions for cooking and heating homes and productive use of energy for irrigation and agro-processing and other entrepreneurship activities. This holistic approach has already proved successful, transforming the lives of whole communities in Malawi. Our agriculture work is focused on promoting sustainable agriculture approaches based on agro-ecological farming principles and improving access to markets.
Access to energy is a vital stage in the development of remote communities. It allows people to break out of a cycle of poverty and unlock their potential. Our Malawian projects make sure that the poorest people benefit, by leveraging the spending power of larger businesses.
People living in extreme poverty can’t lift themselves out of it unless they have reliable energy sources. These communities are also the least able to adapt to the devastating consequences of climate change.
In Malawi, the demand for electricity is huge. Communities need it to power their businesses, schools and hospitals. Parents need it for earning an income, as well as cooking and refrigerating food. And, as daylight fades, children need it for safety and study.
A unique combination of renewable hydro-electric power, skills training and knowledge sharing is already transforming lives in Malawi. Families are harnessing the power of flowing water to give them the electricity they so desperately need. Micro-hydro schemes are owned and operated by the communities they serve, putting them in control.
Our work with our local partners in Mulanje has already brought clean, renewable energy to nearly 30,000 people. Six schools, three business centres and a clinic have also been connected to electricity. Another programme about to start in the north of the country will see us share the knowledge we’ve gained to benefit even more families and businesses.
Practical Action is a leading member of the newly established Malawi Agrobiodiversity Network which is a grouping of local and international organizations promoting sustainable agriculture activities across the country. Practical Action has focused its agriculture work on building the capacity of partners to establish agriculture market systems that are participatory and work for everyone through its “Participatory Market Systems Development Model”. The organization has conducted research and mapping of farmer groups and institutions working to support farmer managed seed systems to ensure that smallholder’s rights to access, produce and exchange seeds are protected and expanded. Working with other partners, including Palladium, we are leading in providing capacity building to community groups to build their resilience against effects of climate change.
We established the Mulanje Energy Generation Authority (MEGA) to continue our successful work with communities is Mulanje. Since its inception, MEGA has gone on to make thousands of new connections to homes and businesses in the region.
Funding partners for our work in Malawi include: