The Soils, Food and Healthy Communities project is a participatory, farmer-led nonprofit organization, using agroecological methods to improve food security and nutrition in Malawi.
SFHC staff and farmer volunteers are key figures in their communities, and have a crucial role to play as coordinators of information for isolated rural regions. Our staff have been raising awareness around COVID-19, spreading medical advice on how farming families can protect themselves using hand washing, social distancing and protective measures. Thanks to a grant from Avaaz, SFHC has been able to provide food, facemasks, sanitizer, buckets, and seeds for 400 families to help support them during the pandemic.
However, we are very concerned about the long-term food security and nutrition of Malawian farmers in the aftermath of COVID-19. Public health infrastructure in the country is dangerously limited, and long-distance commutes, lack of connectivity and education make our communities especially vulnerable to this crisis. A weakened economy exacerbates current poverty and inequality. If you are interested in getting the most up to date information on the COVID-19 situation in Malawi feel free to look at the Malawi COVID-19 National Information Dashboard. If you have the resources, please consider donating to organizations working to support East African health systems in fighting the Coronavirus, such as the internationally recognized Doctors Without Borders (MSF):
In addition to immediate medical support, the need for building long-term food security, nutrition, gender equality, sustainable lands and resilient communities has never been greater. We do not know the timeline of this virus. We hope to be able to continue our work as soon as social interactions are safe, but in the mean time we are working on innovative ways to continue supporting farmers for the long haul. Please consider supporting our work.
Our work at SFHC
We are a certified nonprofit, registered with charitable status in Malawi. As an organization run and led by Malawian farmers, we support around 6000 of our fellow smallholder farming households in building sustainable, healthy, equitable, and resilient communities. Our participatory research model depends on farmer-led experimentation with a wide range of agroecological farming techniques, such as legume intensification, composting, mulching, and botanical pesticides. We support the revitalization of indigenous crops such as sorghum and finger millet, while affirming indigenous knowledge and facilitating farmer-to-farmer knowledge exchange. In keeping with the concept of food sovereignty, we take seriously the social and cultural milieu within which they live, adjusting our educational approaches and strategies accordingly.
SFHC believes healthy communities are equitable communities. We seek to address environmental, economic, health, and social issues at the household, community and national levels in Malawi. We conduct workshops on gender equity and actively engage HIV/AIDS-affected households in our communities. We ensure the democratic election of village representation while maintaining gender parity. This work has helped us create a participatory integrated curriculum, which combines lessons in agroecology, climate change, nutrition and social equity. The curriculum, created as a collaboration between small-scale farmers in Malawi, the USA and Tanzania, is available for download here.
Publications and Outcomes:
We have published results demonstrating improvements in child nutrition, food security and soil fertility for smallholder farming families in many peer-reviewed scientific journals, and we partner with several international institutions to tackle difficult research questions. Our latest project investigates the impact of agroecological adoption on landscapes and wild biodiversity, exploring the influence of pollinators, pests, and beneficial insects in a changing climate.