Malawi Championship – Agriculture and SWC - Wells for Zoë Soil and Forest Restoration

Wells for Zoë
Published: 29 November 2022
Last edited: 29 November 2022
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In the wider Enyezini area, Miombo Woodlands have been clearfelled and deforested, leading to substantial soil erosion threatening the livelihoods of nearby farmers. 
The restoration approach is focused on active soil erosion control, implemented with locally available organic materials and simple principles by hundreds of paid community workers. Eroded areas are then covered in organic material: grasses, brush packing and mulch to provide conditions for later planted indigenous trees to thrive. Not only will this approach restore the forest cover, provide paid work for hundreds of community members, but it will reduce the threat to the livelihoods of smallholder farmers whose fields are severely threatened by erosion channels cutting into their lands. This  andscape restoration approach with natural solutions will improve the water penetration of the soil allowing for groundwater storages to refill and provide a stream of life to community members in the longterm. 


East and South Africa
Scale of implementation
Area-wide development
Forest ecosystems
Tropical deciduous forest
Urban ecosystem and build environment
Disaster risk reduction
Erosion prevention
Flood management
Food security
Forest Management
Habitat fragmentation and degradation
Health and human wellbeing
Land management
Species management
Sustainable livelihoods
Terrestrial spatial planning
Traditional knowledge
Water provision and management
One Health
Food systems
Erratic rainfall
Increasing temperatures
Land and Forest degradation
Loss of Biodiversity
Conflicting uses / cumulative impacts
Ecosystem loss
Lack of access to long-term funding
Lack of alternative income opportunities
Lack of food security
Lack of infrastructure
Lack of public and decision maker’s awareness
Lack of technical capacity
Poor monitoring and enforcement
Poor governance and participation
Unemployment / poverty
Sustainable development goals
SDG 1 – No poverty
SDG 2 – Zero hunger
SDG 3 – Good health and well-being
SDG 4 – Quality education
SDG 5 – Gender equality
SDG 6 – Clean water and sanitation
SDG 8 – Decent work and economic growth
SDG 10 – Reduced inequalities
SDG 13 – Climate action
SDG 15 – Life on land
SDG 17 – Partnerships for the goals
Aichi targets
Target 1: Awareness of biodiversity increased
Target 2: Biodiversity values integrated
Target 3: Incentives reformed
Target 4: Sustainable production and consumption
Target 5: Habitat loss halved or reduced
Target 7: Sustainable agriculture, aquaculture and forestry
Target 10: Ecosystems vulnerable to climate change
Target 11: Protected and conserved areas
Target 12: Reducing risk of extinction
Target 13: Safeguarding genetic diversity
Target 14: Ecosystem services
Target 15: Ecosystem restoration and resilience
Target 18: Traditional knowledge
Target 19: Sharing information and knowledge
Target 20: Mobilizing resources from all sources
Sendai Framework
Target 1: Reduce global disaster mortality by 2030
Target 2: Reduce the number of affected people globally by 2030
Target 5: Increase the number of countries with national and local disaster risk reduction strategies by 2020
Business engagement approach
Direct engagement with a company
Direct engagement with associations


Enyezini, Malawi


Environmental impact: Indigenous trees grow in areas previously unsued and unsuitable for plant growth. The reduced water runoff-speed dramatically helps to accumulate biomass.

Social challenges: Land tenure is a complex topic and it has been a challenge to unite communities. The most impactful argument was that wells with pumps, installed by Wells for Zoë, already show that groundwater levels are decreasing and that if no measures would be taken, it can be expected that less and less safe drinking water can be drawn from the wells. 

Economic challenges. Many farmers have previously produced charcoal illegally at the high risk of being arrested. We were able to offer hundreds of them a meaningful job: Planting trees instead of cutting them down,


From preschool children and their caretakers, Secondary Girl Students supported through this project to hundreds of community tree planters there are thousands of people who have directly or indirectly profited. 

How do the building blocks interact?

All activities are driven by our core values and we display the results in a transparent way on our own mapping platform and website. This helps to show donors, as well as our workers how serious we are about transparency and achieving a longterm sustainable impact


More than one million indigenous trees have been planted in the Enyezini area in the last two seasons with the Wells for Zoë. We have demonstrated that in barren areas erosion control work can improve the soil conditions to an extent that indigenous trees can be regrown.
Hundreds of community members have been trained on how to install erosion control measures in the project areas, as well as in their own farmlands to increase probability of a good harvest. More than 52,000 mandays of work has been invested into the area since April 2022. We do not only hire a majority of women to implement these activities, but also provide support for Secondary Girl Students, as well as we train carekaters in preschools. 
The community members receive fruit tree seedlings from the Wells for Zoë farm as reward for successful implementation of erosion control measures and tree planting related activities - be it preparing the site or nursing seedlings in one of the five large scale community nurseries wich each having a capacity of 500,000 seedlings. 
Fruit trees have been planted at the nurseries to transform the nurseries into a fruit garden over the years. 

We are in the final planning stages of implementing large scale solar community kitchens at schools to reduce the amount of firewood needed.
Additionally, we pay our workers to safeguard trees and woodland.


Wells for Zoë

Covid 19 restrictions had a drastic impact on all our lives I suppose but for charities relying on support from abroad this was an especially challenging time. 
DHL stopped delivering packages to Malawi and only residents could fly to Malawi... but we got lucky. A dutch individual living in Malawi was able to deliver a drone to Wells for Zoë. Lovemore Lemon, back then the manager of our farm and now of the whole tree planting projects, and Harisen Amin, our country director learned how to pilot a drone via videocall instructions and send back the first panoramas and photos of an indigenous nursery setup. From then on the project grew substantially in size as donors loved the fact that we had malawian pilots who could use a drone to create drone photogrammetric maps, panoramas and stunning aerial photos.  

Contributed by

kevin_42197's picture

Kevin Dalferth Wells for Zoë