Permaculture was introduced at Kapita Primary School in early 2011. The project is combined and implemented hand in hand with eco-sanitation programme at the school. When Empower introduced the project, Kapita Primary School had 4 pit latrines 2 of which were filled up and rendered unusable while the other 2 were almost filling up faster. This posed a serious health hazard to pupils at the school most of whom are young children in lower grades. Empower, with support of an eco-san and permaculture specialist trained the school committee and pupils in construction of sustainable composting toilets that won’t fill up and will eventually give them organic fertilizer to apply in their maize garden. A permaculture/eco-san committee was therefore set up. 1 composting toilet (a fossa alterna) was built as a demonstration at the school. The school committee and the permaculture committee are now supposed to replicate and build 4 more composting toilets including 3 urinals- 1 for boys, 1 for younger girls and 1 for older girls in senior grades.
A permaculture garden was set up at the school. The garden is to become the center of learning and excellence in permaculture principles and practice in and around Kapita. The committee was trained in permaculture principles and practice and Empower also organised and funded an exchange visit for local lead farmers to Lukwe Eco-Gardens to learn. The goal of the school committee and the permaculture committee is that Kapita Primary School should introduce a sustainable school breakfast programme to encourage kids to go and remain in school.
The garden has tremendously increased and grows different types of fruit and shade trees like Bananas, Pineapples, Oranges and Coffee bushes. Ground covers like sweet potatoes and Vetiver. Legumes like soya and peas. In short learners and farmers learn how to make contour ridges to control soil erosion, how to make compost, mulching, mixed and intercropping and water harvesting.
In terms of adoption and practice of permaculture, a few lead farmers are championing permaculture in their homes. One Mestina Bipa is an example of a woman who is fighting the odds to making her house food secure through practicing permaculture. Mestina has a big garden where she is growing organic coffee only. She is also growing different types of fruit and shade trees. When Empower Malawi team visited Mestina’s permaculture garden she had this to say, ‘I hope everybody here sees what permaculture can do. I am growing organic coffee which is fetching a higher price on the market compared to inorganic coffee. I hope that in the next 2 years, my garden will give me more money that I won’t have to lack any basics needs including sending my children to a better school.’ Yes, and here at Empower we think so too!! Mestina is just an example of few lead farmers who are championing permaculture in Kapita. Mestina is also the chairperson of the permaculture committee at Kapita Primary School.
The permaculture project at Kapita Primary School has attracted more attention and raised the profile of this small school. Different volunteers whom Empower brought to participate in the Earthship build are donating school items to the school including exercise books, text books, and a Microscope. As an encouragement to the school Empower also donated a digital camera, 1 laptop computer and 3 tablets to the school. With support from UNDP- Small Grants Facility, Mzuzu University also installed solar electricity at Kapita Primary School in 2013.