Project Build an Earthship in Rural Malawi!
The project, Kapita Earthship Community Centre, is to become a sustainable development epicentre for 38 villages and over 5000 rural people in South East Mzimba district in Malawi. We want to plant the seed of an ideal condition from which a sustainable community can grow and flourish from a radically sustainable building made with recycled materials. With a budget of US$70000, the Kapita Earthship Community Centre is to house a community bank, a mini library, a dispensary, offices and a food bank. Local labour will be wholly volunteered, so no labour costs.
The people living in remotest of Malawi have been building houses from rammed earth and dirt since time immemorial. Recently, Empower Malawi, a local NGO which is coordinating this project introduced the people of Kapita area to principles of permaculture and practices as one way of ensuring true sustainable living and development. We now want to teach the people a more improved, durable, sustainable and radical method of building with rammed earth- building an Earthship the Earthship Biotecture way. This will be the first of its kind in Malawi and the people of Kapita will host this learning process and camp for other locals and internationals willing to learn.
To help the people realise their dream of owning an Earthship, Empower Malawi has partnered with Earthship Biotecture (USA) to help design a most versatile and economical sustainable green building. An Earthship Biotecture team will fly into Malawi to teach the people and together build the green community centre in the second quarter of 2013.
Other additional information.
Kapita/Zatuba is located in the vast but sparsely populated Northern Region district of Mzimba in Malawi. It forms part of the wider south-east Mzimba political constituency. Located between Viphya Forest and Nkhota-kota Game Reserve, Kapita is accessible via a bumpy and filthy earth road which sometimes becomes impassable during the rainy season. The nearest market servicing Kapita is 60kms away while the nearest town is over 120kms where health and financial services are also found. From Lilongwe, the capital city of Malawi, Kapita is about 5 hours of continuous driving. Despite Kapita area being endowed with numerous fruits, vegetables and coffee, about 70% of the fruits and vegetables are lost due to lack of market. This has led to the community shifting to the devastating tobacco farming which is losing value on both the national and international market and has already caused great forestry damage. Kapita has huge potential to become a centre of development for the wider south-east Mzimba.
The primary objective of the project is to fight against systemic poverty and climate change through the promotion of sustainable livelihood and household income generation.
• To build a spacious Earthship Community Centre in Zatuba Village- Malawi to house a community bank, a nursery school, a community hall, a dispensary, a library and offices.
• To provide an internship opportunity to local and international individuals willing to acquire skills in sustainable building using the Earthship Biotecture principles
• To set the pace and provide a direction for those who want to promote sustainable housing in Malawi
Impacts on policy/advocacy/sustainability and replicability
The project directly responds to the Millennium Development Goals specifically of alleviating poverty, environmental management and education for all. The project contributes to the government and global fight against climate change by promoting environmental friendly sustainable building to protect the existing forest reserves. It further contributes to the international and governments of Malawi’s efforts in the promotion of alternative and sustainable energy sources other than oil and natural gas.
The sustainability of this project lies in the effective community participation. The project itself is an outcome of a participatory vision workshop. Generated income through the different income generating activities will be fed back into the project. The generated funds will be used for project expansion and maintenance of the centre.
The project managers are Kapita Development Committee (KDC), with help and support of Empower Malawi Limited (Empower Malawi) – a local not for profit organisation registered under the laws of Malawi as an NGO and an initiative of Empower Inc. (Australia), and Earthship Biotecture (USA).