Combatting Climate Change via Collaboration


Climate change is leading to unpredictable weather patterns and events that harm Malawian farmers' ability to feed themselves, their families and the nation. But through collaboration, organizations on the ground in Malawi are helping farmers all across the country deal with these changes.


Total LandCare (TLC) has been a leading organization in Malawi for nearly 15 years. TLC is at the forefront of the environmental movement there, and its programs help rural people establish sustainable livelihoods. Their secret for such impressive results? Partnership.


TLC utilizes the powerful tool of partnership on a number of levels. A partnership with the Norwegian government that has lasted for six years enables TLC to operate as widely as possible in Malawi. According to Executive Director Trent Bunderson, TLC expanded one program fivefold after it partnered with the Norwegian government.


Now, that partnership is fostering even more collaboration. The Nordic Development Fund is overseeing a new project that will be handled by three organizations: TLC, the Swedish Cooperative Centre, and Leadership for Environment and Development (LEAD), a program run by the University of Malawi. These organizations will collaborate on the Harmonization for Enhanced Livelihoods (HEAL) Program, which aims to help smallholder farmers in Malawi deal with unpredictable climate patterns associated with climate change.


Collaboration through the HEAL Program will allow the partners to assist an astonishing 165,000 households - that's about 990,000 individuals. According to Bunderson, the collaboration will be useful "because each partner has different capabilities and strengths". The partners will use their various strengths together to "increase our capacity and range of activities to improve the livelihoods of people and reduce risk of climate change to these rural communities". These activities will include implementing agriculture programs that showcase the benefits of climate-smart practices, business education and assistance for farmers, and advocacy for stronger agricultural policies in Malawi, among other projects.


Of course, forming a partnership is never easy. TLC, the Nordic Development Fund, the Swedish Cooperative Centre and LEAD met many times over the past year until they felt ready to launch their project in March 2013. The organizations compromised on a number of elements of the project, which Bunderson said has led to a project model that he's very excited about.


The results of the HEAL Program remain to be seen, but the partners have already proven that they can work together of the course of their year-long planning period. Now they can start a program that will reach many times the number of rural Malawians that TLC normally helps, increasing their impact by working together.

By Jess Litman, about 3 years ago