Bleubird in Malawi: An Update

Bleubird in Malawi: An Update

If you’ve been following our journey for a while, you may already know about our project in Malawi. We’ve been working on this in the background for almost three years, and we’re encouraged to see its positive impact so far. 

It’s close to our hearts for multiple personal reasons, but we also feel it’s a great way to give back to the planet and its people. 

Without the continued support of the Bleubird community - you -  we wouldn’t be in a position to work on projects like this. Here’s what's been going on the past while…

A quick recap – what is Bleubird in Malawi?

At the heart of Bleubird is a passion for protecting the planet we love and our work in Malawi offers both environmental and humanitarian benefits.

Over the past few Black Fridays, we have donated one pound for every pound spent to this project in order to reduce C02 emissions and improve the lives of communities living there.

Currently, 90% of people in Malawi use the ‘Three Stone Fire’ for cooking. This is a dangerous and inefficient cooking method that has been used for over 5,000 years. 

Working with the team at Mulanje Mission Hospital, we have been enabling families in the Mulanje district of Malawi to switch from the ‘Three Stone Fire’ to the ‘Changu Changu Moto’ (Fast Fast Fire) cookstove developed by Ripple Africa.

There are multiple benefits to making this switch, including a 66% reduction in household wood use, which not only helps tackle deforestation and CO2 emissions but also helps families save valuable time and labour. 

In contrast to the Three Stone Fire, the Changu Changu Moto Cookstove keeps the flame enclosed within the cookstove, allowing for a safer method of cooking, and reducing smoke inhalation and burn incidents among younger children. 

So far, thanks to the support of our community, we have been able to help build over 1,500 cookstoves in the area. You can read in more detail about the Bleubird in Malawi project here.

The impact of Cyclone Freddy – widespread devastation

Earlier this year, a powerful tropical storm, known as Cyclone Freddy, swept across the Indian Ocean, through Mozambique and across into Malawi. Hundreds of lives were lost and tens of thousands lost their homes and possessions.

The district of Mulanje was among the worst affected by the storm, alongside Chikwawa, Nsanje, and Blantyre. Various organisations, such as UNICEF, the World Food Programme, and the Red Cross, have undertaken relief efforts across the affected areas. 

The team at Mulanje Mission Hospital has also been working tirelessly on the ground to provide relief and support to families impacted by the storm. 

They have used donations to restore collapsed pit latrines and water sources. The team also planned to help rebuild the stoves Changu Changu Moto Cookstoves that were destroyed as a result of the storm but, upon arrival, we found that the majority of the stoves had already been rebuilt by the local communities . 

We also committed an extra £2,500 to go toward the relief effort and provide much-needed support during this devastation.

A visit to Mulanje Mission Hospital – witnessing the project in action

In April, a team from Bleubird joined other Northern Irish businesses involved in Malawi (Good Little Company, Fane Valley, and Action Renewables) for a visit to Mulanje Mission Hospital. 

During their time, they got the chance to meet with locals and witness the devastation caused by Cyclone Freddy. Efforts have also been made to help people in Malawi get back to farming to harvest

During the visit, the team were able to see and assist with the building of the Changu Changu Moto Cookstoves, witness them in action, and discover the real-life impact of the stoves on families in the area.

So far, Mulanje Mission Hospital has constructed 1,500 cookstoves across the district, with plans to keep expanding the project. Discover the project in action below:

One of the most impactful benefits of the Changu Changu Moto Cookstove project is the focus on education. The stoves are built using bricks made from a mud-mortar mix that is natural and readily available for locals to use. When stoves are first installed, families are involved in the entire process and shown how to fix and rebuild the stoves for themselves.

Many of the Cookstoves across Mulanje were destroyed by Cyclone Freddy. However, when the team visited locals to provide relief efforts, they were encouraged to see that many families had already rebuilt the cookstoves for themselves.

Cyclone Freddy was devastating. However, we can take encouragement in knowing that each Changu Changu Moto Cookstove introduced can have a profound and long-lasting positive impact in giving agency to local communities as they have the tools and knowledge to rebuild and repair the stoves as and when they need.

Reflecting on the visit, the team explained, “We have never felt more despondent by the reality and the injustice of Absolute Poverty. However, we have never felt more encouraged by the effectiveness of the sustainable work in progress at MMH.

“There is so much to do... but change can happen... it is happening…”

What’s happening now?

Five months on, people across Malawi are still recovering from the effects of Cyclone Freddy. Farming recommenced soon after the devastation when there was enough moisture in the soil to allow for fertile growth and today, there are plenty of sweet potatoes, meaning families in the surrounding area have enough food to survive.

Efforts have also been made to help people in Malawi get back to farming to harvest the surviving crops of cassava and beans as well as a focus on replenishing livestock and beehives.

Irrigation farming is also taking place in multiple areas. However, the high price of fertiliser has brought widespread challenges as many farmers are unable to access it.

The team at Mulanje Mission Hospital has worked consistently to alleviate the suffering wrought by Cyclone Freddy. Over recent months, they have provided free health care to children under five, pregnant women, and people with chronic diseases. 

They have also been providing food support and materials to help families in need to reconstruct their houses, hygiene facilities, and cookstoves, and continue to assist more and more families in the district to switch from the Three Stone Fire to the Changu Changu Moto Cookstove.

There’s still a long way to go, but continued relief efforts, alongside support and donations, are helping affected families recover from the devastation of the tropical cyclone.

We are committed to this work in Malawi, and over the next few months, we are prioritising it as a focus, bringing you more updates and regular communication on what is happening in Malawi and how the lives of people are improving.

Thanks for jumping on board with us and being part of this.

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