The Lake Malawi Eco-region has been formally recognized by WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) as one of the Global 200 regions with a sensitive ecosystem worthy of conservation. Lake Malawi National Park (LMNP) lies within the Lake Malawi Eco-region and was designated by United Nations in 1984 as a World Heritage Site – in recognition of the high fish species diversity and biological importance of its fauna. The formally pristine Lake Malawi is severely over-fished, threatening to drive to extinction many endemic and endangered fish species.
A dramatic increase in deforestation is another threat caused by the fuel needs of the rural communities lying within and around LMNP. With an increased population competing for diminishing natural resources, the task of conservation and environmental education has to include a comprehensive programme that addresses social issues related to the local population. Nowadays, conservation of natural resources, health, environmental and economic development, are all inextricably intertwined and, since 2001, WWF has been seeking sustainable solutions for the people living adjacent to Malawi’s 2 beautiful National Parks: Liwonde and Lake Malawi National Parks.
An environmental education programme by WWF Finland has been a particularly important legacy left to the communities adjacent to both Liwonde and Lake Malawi National Parks. Primary schools in both areas have benefitted.
The Environmental Education Centre was constructed at Mvuu Camp (Liwonde National Park), as well as the Women’s Handicrafts Group at at Makanga Gate (also Liwonde National Park). In addition WWF Finland constructed The HEEED Centre in Chirombo Bay and the Panda Garden in Chembe village, both with their demonstration aquaculture ponds and vegetable gardens – seeking to address the needs of communities adjacent to Lake Malawi National Park.
Dr. Kenneth McKaye and AlisonWiklund are active Trustees of HEEED, as well as Advisors for HEEED Environmental Education programmes and they welcome suggestions from those interested in both the well-being and health of Lake Malawi National Park and the surrounding communities.
In 2004, WWF Finland founded and funded HEEED, as an NGO, which is now carrying on these initiatives – having received its first 3-year WWF Finland grant in January 2006. HEEED (NEDI) is a local Malawian NGO, with a Board of Trustees, a Constitution, was registered No. NEDI TR/INC 2053 with the Malawi Ministry of Justice in 2004 and subsequently became a member of CONGOMA.
HEEED stands for Health, Education, Environment, and Economic Development. HEEED continues to promote the original goals set by WWF Finland.
HEEED is promoting a social enterprise related to the tourist sector entitled Cape Maclear Scuba Shack Diving School. The income generated from both these entities funds all the HEEED community activities, bilharzia research, educational, orphan-care and Volunteer programmes.
In addition to promoting activities in the tourist sector, HEEED is also collaborating with the Ministry of Gender, Children, Disability and Social Welfare; Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism; Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining (Dept. of National Parks); Ministry of Transport and Public works; Ministry of Education, Science and Technology; Ministry of Health; Ministry of Civic Education, Culture and Community Development, Malawi Children’s Village, Chembe Secondary School – particularly focused on health issues impacting on both communities and the environment.
HEEED has also been the recipient of generous donations from various individuals and organizations, including Rotary US and Rotary Limbe. For more information click here.
More recently – in 2017, a number of individuals (including 2 HEEED Trustees) founded the Finland-Malawi Association with the aim of strengthening the links between the 2 countries. This initiative has lead to HEEED’s participation in the World Village Festival for the first time in May 2018.