Malawi’s average rainfall is 1200 mm per year, all of which falls during the rain season from December to April.  This offers a window of opportunity to harvest, store and utilize this rainwater for the rest of the year.   Additionally, you may remember that we have a broken pipe that runs through our property giving us a seasonal supply of water from May though December.  With rain and pipe break seasons in mind, we decided it was time for Kusamala to have a comprehensive water management plan.

Leiza at the chalkbord teaching water management

Leiza at the chalkbord teaching water management

Last week Kusamala welcomed Leiza Swennen, water management specialist and owner of Lukwe Lodge in Livingstonia.  Lukwe not only serves as a lodge, but also a permaculture demonstration and training site that specializes in the use and harvesting of water resources.   In addition to all of Kusamala’s staff and interns, we were able to invite 5 local community members to participate in the training in hopes that they can take what they have learned back to their communities.

Rhoda explaining her map to the group

The first day was spent inventorying Kusamala’s existing resources, analyzing the pipebreak, creating base maps and going though general rainwater management techniques. From here, Leiza helped us to determine what were the most effective areas for water management and strategies in which to focus our energy.

Alfred helping to redirecting the pipebreak

However, like all good meetings, we had to have a distraction to throw off the schedule.  The aforementioned pipe break decided to rear it’s ugly head and it began to flood Biswick’s house and Cynthia’s office. With everyone’s help in the afternoon we were able to redirect the water away from the house foundation and into the woods.  A real life practical assignment!

Planning the ponds in the garden

Planning the ponds in the garden

By the end of the work-day training we had action plans prepared for building a dam near the pipe break, harvesting water from the gutters around the buildings, building 2 ponds in the commercial garden and building a large swale to collect rainwater off the road.   These are large ambitious projects, but with everyone from the center contributing they are possible.  With that in mind, stay tuned as we make Kusamala a water harvesting demonstration site!