Agatha Augustino, a longtime resident of Kaliyeka, a Township born out Malawi’s multiparty and democracy deluge in 1994, has seen so many trees being planted in her neighborhood.

“We have planted too many trees…but few of them have grown to serve their purpose…too many have died…,” she says as she leads a quartet of young men along the Mchesi River.

Agatha Augustino

Mchesi River cuts across several townships east of Lilongwe City, and cascades into Lilongwe River, the biggest perennial river that gave Lilongwe, Malawi’s capital, its name.

Agatha is the chairperson of Kaliyeka’s Ward Civil Protection Committee (WCPC), a community-based structure set by the Lilongwe City Council to manage local-level responses to disasters including resilience building.

Agatha’s committee has become one of the most important structures in her community due to flash floods that have a common calamity for the people in the area.

On the day, Agatha was talking about planting trees, she was on a mission to plant even more trees in her area through a project that is utilizing nature-based solutions to avert the catastrophes that have come with climate change, particularly flash floods that wash away houses, property and threatens thousands of lives in her area.

Trees that were planted did not grow

Like many other Malawians, Agatha and her community members have planted too many trees most of which have not grown.

“It’s like a circus, we plant too many trees every year, but just a few of them grow…,” she complained.

But all that has been because the people in Agatha’s area didn’t get the tree planting right.

“Most trees in this area and many other areas were planted wrongly. People just planted trees anyhow without following best agronomic practices in tree planting,” explained Stanley Dzimadzi, a Project Manager with the Centre for Community Organisation and Development (CCODE).

CCODE has partnered with UN-Habitat and Lilongwe City Council to implement a nature-based solution and urban biodiversity project.

“You know, the people could just scratch the soil and put in a tree, and expected it to grow. Even worse, the people never bothered to take care of the trees,” explained Stanley.

Through the project, Stanley and his team from CCODE have collaborated with the Lilongwe City Council to teach residents of Kaliyeka how to plant trees so that they survive.

Through the training on tree planting, people like Agatha have come to realize why the thousands of trees they have planted over the years barely survived.

Right now we know that these trees we are planting will survive. In the past we did everything wrong but expected to get right results…the CCODE training, has empowered us as community members to plant trees right by digging proper tree planting stations and spacing correctly. We have also realised the need for us to always take care of the trees after planting them,”explained Agatha.

Agatha Augustino

About 4,000 trees are expected to be planted in three settlements of Kawale 1 and 2 and Kaliyeka through the project.

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