The Mlambe Project has developed from on the ground community led work in the Balaka District in Malawi, initially, led by students from the University of Manchester that were keen to explore ways of reducing deforestation in Malawi. We were founded in August 2014.
The Founders of the charity, most of whom are still with the charity today developed and researched ways of innovating sustainable development in Malawi and developed the Earthbag technique and taught a community in Malawi to build their own schools. This has led to the successful development of the Mlambe Project Limited, a social enterprise that is led by the Malawians we trained to build school blocks, toilets and teachers houses in Malawi and they have since gone on to trial commercial building for other NGO’s in Malawi, as well as expand their work into neighbouring schools. Over 86 school blocks are needed in the District and there is much more work to be done.
The Earthbag technique is a successful technique which is extremely cost effective, and offers significant benefits- made from locally resourced materials, it reduces carbon footprint, and uses very little wood. Made of locally found earth, clay and sand, it is a technique that can be taught to build to locals very quickly, therefore our experts have been able to cascade their knowledge of building to other local people and in each new school, local people become involved in building, imparting skills which enable them to apply the same style of building to their own homes and other community infrastructure.
During this period, we have been able to branch out into stove building and have built several hundred stoves and support local people to reduce their firewood usage, which again has been able to impact on the amount of wood used in day to day life in Malawi.
We have also developed an infant feeding programme in the nursery, working with Macrami for Mlambe, a fundraising sister charity in Australia. Macrami for Mlambe is led by one of our volunteers Jess King, who solely fundraises for the programme.
We have also developed a permaculture project to teach children more efficient forms of farming to share with their families.
We have grown our income and ensured that all of our resources are largely spent in Malawi with very little being spent on UK Administration, and we have had an excellent volunteer strategy which has strengthened us massively.
This is of course now strengthened by having an experienced, UK Based CEO and we have recently been redeveloping our strategy to consider how we can grow in a measured but ambitious way.
We have grown as a charity from an entirely volunteer led operation in the UK to hiring our first UK based chief executive, Anna Day.
We are proud of our growing diversity across the team but there is still more work to be done.
We have strengthened our team through hiring engineers and architects in our UK team to advise our team building in Malawi, led by our engineer, Head of Building, Charlie Bowles. Our goals for 2019 will be to further increase the diversity of our team to ensure that we are developing the most economical, expedient and sustainable techniques possible.
Building Achievements since inception
Our building team has made significant progress and has built:
- 4 x Earthbag teachers’ houses (2x 2-bed and 2x 3-bed).
- 2 x Earthbag toilet and shower block units.
- 1 x Earthbag teachers’ office.
- 1 x Compost toilet block.
- 2 x Brick school blocks (2 classrooms per block) at Mlambe
- 1 school block commissioned by an NGO.
- 1 school block at Nankhono has completed and a second one is in progress.
- 1 x Brick toilet block (8 latrines).
- 1 x Education centre.
- 2 x Kitchens for schools.