An incredible Permaculture treasure is hidden away in the heart of Area 25 in Lilongwe. This Health Center is a result of the combined efforts of the Baylor College of Medicine (Texas Children’s Hospital), and Malawi’s Ministry of Health. Certified Permaculture Designer, Afshan Omar, has put several years of hard work into creating an oasis of nutrition, resilience, and sustainability.
The plot is about 5 hectares in size and being used to demonstrate the links between human and environmental health. They have also developed a community center within the healthcare facility where community members can learn about Permaculture techniques such as good soil and water management practices, intercropping in guilds, using zones, and learning about the roles of different components of healthy ecosystems.
Borrowing a description from the Baylor website: “Adjacent to our maternity waiting home is a diverse and vibrant garden which provides healthy fruits and vegetables on a daily basis to the women staying here. Access to nutritious and dependable food is especially important for expectant mothers to ensure successful deliveries and proper infant development. Typical foods the women receive include eggs from our chickens, a healthy bunch of green leafy vegetables, tomatoes, and a selection from the most recent harvest which may include beans, maize, sweet potatoes, carrots, onions, and whatever fruit is in season. From these foods, the women receive key nutrients such as Folic Acid, Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Vitamin B12, Iron, and protein.”
The health center has also done a great job of integrating container gardens, tree nurseries, animals, and fuel-efficient cooking areas:
The whole place is living proof that solutions exist! With a bit of forward thinking and minimal input, Malawi could easily be solving many of its health, environmental, and nutritional problems. This would go a long way towards helping reduce the pressure which is currently placed upon health centers and medicinal supplies throughout the country. Keep up the fantastic work Area 25!