Contributed by Luwayo Biswick
Last week, Kusamala facilitated a 5-day introduction to permaculture course for nurses, advocates, and ground workers at the Bwaila Maternity Hospital in Area 25, Lilongwe. The training began with a site analysis activity to understand how the hospital currently uses the land around the clinic building, the challenges they face, and potential for improvements. A thorough site analysis is the backbone of a good permaculture design as you want to ensure that issues are addressed in a sustainable way. The most outstanding challenge the hospital faces is a lack of access to water. The hospital typically gets very little water most days and none at all at other times. Exacerbating the challenge to establishing a hospital garden, the water that is available is only used for hospital use and would not be enough for the gardens. Needing an alternative solution to supply water for the garden led to the design of a water catchment system.
Calculating how much rain you can harvest from a roof is a relatively simple task. As a group, we found that the hospital could be catching over 5 million liters of water every year from their building. This gave us a basis on where to continue. This week we will install a water catchment system so that the garden will be able to thrive even after the rainy season. Other aspects of the garden design include, soil management to prepare the land for planting, permaculture guilds to bring back diversity, efficient energy zone planning to make use of their energy wisely and efficiently, and integrated pest management to bolster the system’s ability to fight against pests and diseases on its own.