Two girls drawing pictures

Innovation, education and people-centred development

The Mlambe Project is a grassroots international NGO working to put an end to educational disadvantage in Malawi.

The Mlambe Project is community driven, aiming to ensure that all children have access to an education that gives them better and broader opportunities.

Our key focus is to assist the community by providing educational resources. We achieve this by building more classrooms so more children can enroll in school and teaching community members how to build schools using the sustainable earthbag building technique, which lessens the environmental impact of building. This allows community members to build their own homes and other community assets. Our goal is to aim for every child having a school place throughout their primary and secondary schooling.

Why Malawi?

Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world Malawi, despite having established a relatively stable democracy, which is by and large unaffected by domestic or international conflict. Officially called the Republic of Malawi, is located in South-East Africa and is bordering with Tanzania in the north, Zambia in the west and Mozambique to the east and south. In fact, with a population of 18 million people, over 70% of the population is living below the international poverty line of $1.90 per person per day.

Literacy rates at 62% / only half of total students persist to final grade of primary, 96% school enrolment yet only 4% govt. expenditure went to education in 2017.

Building

By its essence, Earthbag building is low impact, low cost and creates jobs.

After trialling Earthbag building with huge success at The Mlambe School, one of our key aims is to replicate the technique across other sites in Malawi in order to obtain a perfect building model. We also aim to make the Malawian side of the charity a successful and profitable social enterprise in its own right, allowing our team of Earthbag Experts to be financially sustainable and rely on their building skills.

We recently had our first external building contract, which saw some of the team go to Lilongwe and use the Earthbag technique to build a school.

The Earthbag building system uses polypropylene bags filled with soil – that are then stacked one on top of the other to build stable walls.

Education

At The Mlambe Project, we are always looking to find successful ways to transform children’s education. We do this by ensuring that schools have basic infrastructure- for example in the Balaka District, over 5000 pupils are currently taught outside.

We build classrooms, toilets, teachers homes, and provide access to water, and wherever possible solar power, to enable children to have access to the most basic of facilities.

We ensure that pupils have access to basic facilities.

We also support older youths to study higher education, through our partnership with University of The People in the USA. We are currently reviewing our higher education programme with a view to redeveloping our offer going forward, working closely with the University of Oxford to do this.

Innovation

At Mlambe we believe that innovation is the key to finding the greatest impact at the lowest cost. For large changes to take place projects must be effective, relevant and popular in the community.

To achieve this, we aim to design and implement small and meaningful pilots before adapting and expanding on a larger scale if successful. This way we can adapt to changing needs, make the community an integral part of the design process and save valuable time and money.

Man working with earthbag bricks
Building with earthbags.

Our innovations so far include: the Earthbag building technique, building with stabilised soil blocks (SSB), the fuel efficient cook stove project, our distance learning programme through the University of the People and developing compost toilets.

Livelihoods

We support the development of jobs that increase people’s access to well paid livelihoods that protect them from poverty.

Our 2019-2024 programme is currently under research, and we are working with private companies to develop opportunities for careers in Malawi, as well as reviewing job creation activities and their successes in other countries.

Our jobs creation programme aims to provide work which has local relevance, long term prospects and a positive environmental impact. We particularly want to focus on more marginalised community members such as widows and mothers and providing access to work for both men and women.