Wildlife Action Group - Malawi
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Kachere Crafts

Creating income for vulnerable ladies living close to Thuma forest reserve



Our communities

Protected areas are islands surrounded by populations who are in most cases living far from main towns and are some of the most marginalized populations. These area are very rural with no opportunity of employment or any way to make money. Many people look to the forest for firewood, planks, meat or charcoal to sell so they can have some money. The long term effect this has on these areas is devastating; deforestation, streams drying up and climate change. If people are caught doing illegal activities the people are arrested and if found guilty of an offence imprisonment or fined. This too has a terrible knock on affect on families left behind. Women in particular are vulnerable with poor education and large families who depend on them. With little or no chance of earning any hard cash these ladies struggle to buy some of the basic essentials such as soap and salt, and in most cases they cannot afford to send their children to school, provide uniforms or school books and/or pens. It is every mothers dream that their child is educated and has a chance of a better life. Without good community relationships, and collaboration WAG cannot be successful in protecting the forests. We need the communities to help us. WAG employs local people from the surrounding communities, providing full time employment. At certain times of the year, peace work is available to maintain roads, open up fire breaks, collect grasses etc. So people do benefit from the forest. But there are many people and it is hard to touch everyone.

The project



Whenever starting a new project it is vital that we discuss the idea and implementation of it with our local leaders. The traditional procedure to do this can be very long, and it is most important that what ever we do must be seen to be fair. One must avoid jealousies and causing problems between communities. Five Group Village Head men(GVH) were approached with the original idea of starting a small sewing club. They in turn asked their ladies who would be interested to do this. One lady from each GVH area was chosen and trained how to sew. Ideas of what to sew were discussed and designed. At the beginning we experienced many quality issues especially when a new design was introduced. Also simple things such as maybe their hands were dirty and the material was then looking very grubby. One lady has problems with her vision, however, her friends assist her with threading the needle and so forth.

The idea

To set up small scale, sustainable income for individual people living close to the reserve.


  • To provide some form of income opportunity to local ladies
  • To support all participants with training
  • To provide recurrent and ongoing training that allows expansion and implementation of new projects amongst local people
  • To reduce the reliance of forest produce through indicatives' like this


The sewing club

In February 2016 wildlife action group started a sewing club for ladies living close to Thuma forest reserve as an alternative income generating activity. The area where this project has been set up is along the eastern boundary of Thuma Forest Reserve. A volunteer from Switzerland , Claudia, kick started this project, and showed the ladies how to sew and make patterns. It started on a matt beside our main gate under a large shady tree.