Coordinating 38 villages in a vast isolated area can be tough. Isolated villages also means people lack a central place where development initiates can emanate from. This is the case in Kapita, Malawi. A region of 38 villages and over 5000 people. Through a partnership with Earthship Biotecture, upon the region's request, we set about training community members on how to build their own community center. Not just any building, an Earthship, a self sustaining building with many features that community members could implement in their own homes. We started this ambitious effort in 2013 - engaging over 200 volunteers, hundreds of community members to build an 8 room community center.
- The Kapita region (38 villages, approx 5,000 people) do not have a community space to house key services and manage their development projects.
- Lack of capacity to build large structures and adopt more sustainable building practices.
- The Kapita Community Savings and Investment Promotion (COMSIP) does not have a building to house its operations.
- A proposed preschool has no building to house its operations.
- The Kapita Development Committee asked Empower to assist them in building their capacity to build a community center and in securing raw materials for such a build.
- Empower proceeded to engage Earthship Biotecture to assist in building a Sustainable Community Centre built out of waste materials such as tires and bottles.
- It was agreed that Earthship Biotecture would organise a 2 week build to initiate the build and transfer building practices to volunteers from Kapita. The Kapita Development Committee would then manage the completion of the build.
From 12 to 24 January 2015, Earthship Biotecture and Empower Malawi organised a second hit with 10 international volunteers and 43 locals to continue the construction of the Kapita Community Centre.
As of February 2016, 5 out of the 8 rooms are complete and the remaining 3 are slated to be completed through community effort by April 2016.
5 rooms complete, 3 rooms remaining.
With support from Empower Malawi and Earthship Biotecture:
- 5 rooms have been built. 3 more rooms will be added by April 2016
- Fundraising: In 2014, Empower fundraised AUD20,000 via a crowdfunding campaign.
- Empower Malawi’s field staff has been supporting the people of Kapita in coordinating local efforts to complete the build e.g. resource planning and organising local volunteers.
- Over 40 community members in the region have intensive training on how to build an Earthship!
- Kapita Community Savings and Investment Promotion now has an office space through which both front end (customer service) and back-end (book keeping) services can be handled.
- Kapita’s first Preschool has been established across 2 rooms in the Earthship.
- Kapita region now has a central meeting location to have regular meetings.
- Community assets such as building materials and tools can now be stored in a safe, neutral location.
- Access up to 5,000 liters of stored rainwater via storage tanks.
- Access to solar electricity for lighting, battery charging and appliances e.g. laptops.
- Solar panels
- Plumbing materials
- Water tanks
- Building tools