Environmental Initiatives in Malawi’s Adult Literacy Programs

We are proud of the strides buildOn has made over the years to promote environmentally friendly initiatives. Below are a few examples of how we are supporting Malawi community members to take action against climate change.


Since 2014, we have helped plant over 700,000 trees in Malawian communities that are conducting Adult Literacy Programs (ALP). In total, 4,521 participants – 3,750 of whom are women – have been involved in this initiative. 

Man in Malawi ALP lifts straw covering to show a row of seedlings growing underneath.
Tree Nursery Program in Malawi ALP

To make this afforestation program a success, buildOn staff has trained communities in tree seed collection, pot filling, seed sowing, and tree seedling management at the nursery. This year, ALP participants will build on this effort by planting tree seedlings near their homes. To help with this, every participant will have a woodlot at home. These initiatives have not only helped create a more green environment for local communities but – just as importantly – they have also helped instill a culture of environmental conservation.

Learners from Chilumba, circled around a pile of soil, fill polythene tubes with soil as part of the seed sowing process
Learners from Chiilumba filling polythene tubes as part of the seed sowing process
An ALP student crouching down beside rows of recently sowed seeds.
An ALP student next to recently sowed seeds
4 women ALP students stand in their green tree nursery, enclosed by a thatched fence, holding tubes with seedlings.
ALP students in their tree nursery

In addition to planting trees, we are also encouraging the conservation of indigenous trees, especially in communities that are implementing beekeeping initiatives such as Mapango ALP, Chimbalame ALP, Chikoko ALP, and Kalanga ALP. Our partner communities have a total of 210 beehives so far! 

An ALP student in Chikowa, standing with one hand on a beehive that he built.
An ALP student in Chikowa, standing by a beehive that he built
Several women from the ALP in Mapango hang a beehive in a tree for their beekeeping initiative
Mapango ALP participants hanging a beehive for their beekeeping initiative


Given the importance of environmentally friendly food production, buildOn has also helped promote the production of soya, maize, and groundnuts in communities. As part of this project, we have trained 1,195 ALP participants – 1,078 of whom are women – in making environmentally friendly compost manure. 

Female community member empties bucket into pile, while buildOn staff stands above and community members circle around.
buildOn staff training Kadewere ALP on how to make environmentally friendly organic fertilizer

ALP participants in Kadewere have been particularly invested in this effort. During the last growing season, they made 65 bags of organic fertilizer, which helped grow 9 acres of maize that yielded more than 14.7 metric tons. Already this year, they have toped these numbers. Kadewere has made 90 bags of organic fertilizer, which will be instrumental in helping to reduce food insecurity in the area. 

Healthy green maize standing in a field.
Maize in Kadewere grown by ALP participants using compost manure (organic fertilizer)