Profile Overview

Maize FieldBackground and Mandate

Total LandCare (TLC) was originally founded by Trent Bunderson, Zwide Jere and Ian Hayes in 1999 to continue the successful services and programs provided under a 12 year project funded by USAID– the Malawi Agroforestry Extension Project.  TLC is a non-profit, non government organization registered and operating in Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Tanzania. It is affiliated to Washington State University (WSU) through a memorandum of agreement. TLC’s mandate is to improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers in the region with a focus on community based approaches to increase agricultural production, food security and incomes with sound management of their natural resources. A key thrust is to provide information to decision-makers to improve policies that support economic development and growth in a sustainable manner.

Focus and Experience

TLC is managed by personnel with over 25 years of experience implementing programs on forestry, natural resource management and agriculture with communities in East and Southern Africa. The key focus is to improve rural livelihoods with emphasis on the following areas:

  • Reforestation and agroforestry with various forms of tree planting on communal lands, homesteads, farms, roadsides, stream banks and degraded hillsides.
  • Soil and water conservation including conservation agriculture, vetiver grass hedgerows, perennial tree crops, gulley reclamation, silt traps, and raised footpaths.
  • Sustainable farming practices to restore and maintain soil fertility through organic manures, agroforestry, intercropping and crop rotations to reduce dependence on costly chemical inputs.
  • Crop diversification with high value crops – rice, groundnuts, beans, soybeans, roots and tuber crops, tree crops, vegetables and spices.
  • Low-cost irrigation with treadle pumps, drip kits, stream diversion and simple water harvesting techniques to expand and diversify farm productivity for increased food security, nutrition and incomes.
  • Introduction and promotion of improved low-cost, fuel efficient wood stoves.
  • Supply of safe drinking water and eco-sanitation to reduce the incidence of disease.

Funding and Collaboration

TLC attracts funding from diverse donor organizations, foundations, and corporations through the preparation of proposals in response to funding opportunities. Funding sources include the United States Agency for International Development, the Norwegian Government, Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), the European Union, international NGOs such as WaterAide and African Leadership, and various private sector firms and foundations. Many programs have involved partnership arrangements with other organizations and institutions to expand the scale, scope and effectiveness of programs with farmers.  These programs have involved many government agencies, NGOs such as Care International, Catholic Relief Services, and ActionAid; International Research Centers such as CIMMYT, IITA, ICRISAT and the World Agroforestry Center; private firms such as Terra Global Capital, Agricane Malawi Ltd. and the National Farmers Association of Malawi;  and educational institutions such as Bunda College of Agriculture and Mzuzu University.

Core Features for Sustainability and Impact

  1. Community Participation and Empowerment
  2. Adaptable, Demand-Driven Interventions
  3. Sustainability and Replication

Keys for Planning and Implementing Community-Based Programs:

  • Build on knowledge and understanding of local systems and cultures
  • Target communities based on need, commitment and potential
  • Ensure community ownership and empowerment through participation, education and training
  • Identify interventions with communities based on demand, need and interest
  • Encourage diverse interventions to create synergies for greater impact by addressing multiple challenges and opportunities
  • Promote transition from subsistence survival dependent on external assistance to farming as a business enterprise driven by market forces
  • Institute commercial systems of service delivery with capacity to increase and sustain impacts through collaboration and investment from all stakeholders - donors, government, NGOs, the private sector and communities.

Extension and Training Services

Total LandCare uses community-based participatory approaches with tried and tested interventions adapted to the local climate, politics, and culture to address priority needs and interests.  TLC has extensive experience working with communities to support the adoption of appropriate impact-based technologies that are affordable and in high demand among rural communities. Sustainability is achieved when adoption has proved productive, profitable and environmentally friendly with no further need for external (technical) support. Instead of giving free “hand outs”, loans and revolving funds are set up with newly established clubs or associations. All farmers are expected to pay for the value of materials and inputs, either with upfront cash contributions, or through payments into a revolving fund or savings and loan accounts. Each village receives different levels of inputs and support depending on the needs identified with the villagers. In this context, communities and households benefit directly through increased crop and wood yields, more productive use of labor, and opportunities to increase incomes by developing enterprises based on increasing markets for natural resource products.

A major strength of TLC is the provision of technical services in the form of community mobilization and empowerment, training of extension staff and communities, production of quality training and extension materials, and community-based systems of monitoring and evaluation.  The focus is to support organized groups of farmers and villages with the aim to build a foundation for sustained growth and development.