Behind the Lens of Healthy Forests for Healthy People: Tree Planting in Malawi

By Climatelinks

This blog series features interviews with the winners of the 2020 Climatelinks Photo Contest. This photo, submitted on behalf of the USAID Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance and United Nations World Food Programme, is available on the Climatelinks Photo Gallery.

Can you tell us the story behind the photo? 

We visited Usi village, Machinga District in 2018 to assess the impact of the project. At the time, they were just beginning the project but were convinced that planting trees and protecting their degraded environment would have multiple positive effects on their food security and overall well-being. Everyone was excited to plant these trees. In this photo, a participant plants a mango tree, which will probably provide fruit to his family in the coming years.  

As the photographer, what does this photo mean to you? 

I went back to the same community at the end of 2020, and I did not recognize the place! I had been in the village for an hour before I realized I had been there before. I saw the man in this picture, and my colleague told me, “Yes, we are in the same community you visited in 2018.” It had become so green with flowing water and happy people that I had not even noticed I was in the same community.

This year’s theme was “Healthy Forests for Healthy People.” Tell us more about how your photo relates to the theme. 

The issue of hunger and malnutrition in rural Malawi is very much linked to deforestation. This project is trying to shift the vicious cycle of people cutting trees, leading to soil erosion affecting their crop production, leading to hunger to a virtuous cycle of people planting trees, leading to a restored environment, leading to food security. 

How does this photo show work that is being done to combat climate change, and/or the climate-related benefits resulting from that work? 

Malawi has been hard-hit by repeated climatic shocks and environmental degradation. Addressing the root causes of food insecurity and climate change is key to breaking the cycle of hunger. The World Food Programme’s integrated approach to resilience presently supports some 150,000 farming communities in the country, progressively enabling them to restore their environment, meet their food and nutrition needs — and tackle climate change. 

The Climatelinks community is encouraged to submit new photos to the gallery through this submission form.

Strategic Objective
Adaptation, Natural Resource Management, Self-Reliance



Climatelinks is a global knowledge portal for USAID staff, implementing partners, and the broader community working at the intersection of climate change and international development. The portal curates and archives technical guidance and knowledge related to USAID’s work to help countries mitigate and adapt to climate change. 

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The 2021 Climatelinks photo contest was a huge success! We received more than 100 stunning submissions from the Climatelinks community, representing more than 22 countries.