Our Lives Our Land

Support and education can boost resilience in communities where poverty levels and food security remain a challenge

Under-utilisation of land is reducing food security and income levels as the missed potential of production opportunities in fertile areas leads to an over reliance on single-crop production and lack of diversity into other livelihoods. Back in 2012, 75% of orphaned school children we interviewed in Kenya said they had no food for breakfast. Under-nourished children are more likely to suffer from poor health, which in turn results in school absences. A lack of land rights, limited access to agricultural technologies and limited funds to buy tools, machinery, fertilizers or seeds has reduced the capacity of local smallholders to maximise yields and increase profit. Poor crop yields also means a lack of income for many subsistence producers. Many of these families struggle to pay the costs of education for their children. 

The Mango Tree supports around 5,000 parents and guardians of orphans and young people in Kenya and Malawi to assist them in developing more diverse and sustainable livelihoods. These include tangerine tree production, goat breeding, community aquaculture, mango tree grafting, cassava, maize and banana production. These projects are enabling those families most at risk of remaining trapped in poverty to expand farm production, trial new seed varieties and appropriate technology, and gain more agricultural and animal husbandry knowledge. This has led to greater crop yields and more farm surplus, improving household food security and family nutrition. 

Project Highlights

Our Lives Our land

This year (2022) marks the expansion of our sustainable livelihoods’ projects in Southern Malawi into the Our Lives Our Land project. The project builds on our ‘Wezesha’ livelihoods project, combining sustainable livelihoods work with educational objectives to build the capacity of vulnerable families so that they can afford to cost of education and reduce barriers preventing disadvantaged children from enrolling and remaining in school. Activities include, means tested bursaries, extra tuition, sanitary towel awareness and distribution and sexual health education. 

Our participatory Farmer’s Field School extension programme will empower caregivers to grow enough food for subsistence and agribusiness and help them establish farmers co-operatives. Through collective collaboration, cooperative members will develop a range of agribusiness such as goat breeding, pig keeping beekeeping and poultry keeping. We will continue to provide livelihoods inputs, training and capacity building support through farming extension programs, marketing support and loan schemes.

Malawi Wezesha Project

Wezesha is a Swahili word that means “enable” and this project expands our sustainable livelihoods projects into the rural areas of Mwanza, Neno, Chikwawa and Nsanje Districts. This southern region of Malawi has the country’s highest number of families living in extreme poverty, so our project will benefit single parent families and households with large numbers of dependents, those caring for orphans, albino or disabled children, single parent households, and those living with long-term health issues such as HIV.  

The project, which started in 2019, is asset-led and builds on existing resources and skills to ensure local ownership and sustainable outcomes. It aims to help those living in poverty rediscover their own local resources for economic empowerment by supporting ideas and solutions through our Farmer’s Field School extension training. This empowers community members to grow enough food for both subsistence and agribusiness and establish their own Cooperative Society. Through collective collaboration, the cooperative members will initiate and co-ordinate the management of a range of agribusiness activities. It also supports the improvement of land-based livelihoods and increases household income, with farming extension programmes for higher yields, marketing of farm produce and loan schemes.

Sustainable Aquaculture

From 2015 to 2021, we invested in and supported fishing livelihoods, reclaiming sand mine gullies and constructing lined fishponds for tilapia production. The project resulted in increased food security and raised income levels, making significant improvements to the local ecology and empowering disadvantaged single-parent women who are vulnerable to sexual exploitation. Fish farmers were encouraged to invest some of their profits back into their farms and have become visibly more resilient and independent. Ponds continue to generate an average annual income of KSH30,000 (£250) and 90% of families in the project put these funds towards education costs for their children. 

Case Study

Caren Bwana

Small-scale farmer Caren and her husband have five children, and also look after three other children orphaned by HIV and AIDS. We have supported Caren with training in sustainable farming, crop management and bee-keeping. This has enabled her to double her annual income. We supplied her with cassava cuttings, maize and sorghum seeds, as well as banana seedlings and three stocked beehives. Within a year she harvested nearly 800kg of maize and 300kg of sorghum, produce she can use to feed her family and sell at market, providing enough income to pay school fees for the following year. She is already looking forward to harvesting the honey from the beehives and has become a Mango Tree Village Volunteer to help support others in her community.

“The support and training I’ve had from the Mango Tree has helped me to increase my profits. I am now able to provide for my family and the orphans I care for.”

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