Rural System's

Malawi Project
an international component

Southern Africa in 2005. Malawi is shown in red.

Another map of Malawi

In December, 2005, I began a small study of Malawi and correspondence with the Rev. Philip Bouknight of Floyd, Virginia.

I first wrote to him:

Dear Rev. Bouknight

I learned from Wanda Price (who will join you on a trip to Malawi) some of your interests.

I'll welcome a chance to introduce myself and share ideas that may be useful. I'm a retired Va Tech prof. , College of Natural Resources. I've visited Senegal and Nigeria with my grad students and know of some of the difficulties faced in Malawi. I've tried to be of help in Virginia's and Tennessee's coalfields (working for Marie Cirillo in Eagan, TN ) with these concepts but have not be able to implement them. I get enough encouragement to keep trying. I correspond with a few people outside of the US about them, one in Nigeria , two in India. My advice for a Senegal colleague, high-up within economic channels is at ../senegal/wildharvest01.html. Maybe there are common elements that may be relevant to your work and future interests.

The design of the proposed system is for improved natural resource management, increased employment and community stability. You can see it at I have an hypothesis that with help from me and colleagues we can make computer maps of the soils, topography, etc around "your place," find relevant computer programs for desert ecology and grasslands, suggest how agro-forestry can be expanded to "agro-pastoral-forestry-and fisheries" enterprises, show the power of a systems approach with diversification, synergism etc. and find a way for developing and sustaining a that can teach others. Depending on grants and foundations (I have painfully learned) is unlikely to sustain a program of study or "good works." even the "Good News." I think that we can improve life by exploiting past research, market goods internationally via the Internet, combine preventative work with health care, teach what we know that is life saving and life enhancing, and maybe do a little good. This may be independent work or somehow it might fit into the future of Rural System.

Interested? May I buy you lunch at some Floyd "hot spot" soon to see if any of the above seems of interest, fits, or is just more of this old guy's dream?

* * *

In first correspondence, he told me :

"I have viewed the embedded page as well as At this time, the Lutheran Church in Malawi does not have major ties with the Malawian government. The bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Malawi (ELCM) has been a very vocal figure against the policies of past Malawian presidents. The current president is on better terms. This is to say that I will not be able to link you to officials that may implement this structure on a national level.

Within the Church structure, we are building and maintaining a vocational training center which is self sustaining. This center relies on agricultural training as well as training in animal husbandry. I do care to embark upon making the center Eco friendly and cost effective. It is a not for profit center. The purpose of the vocational training center is to present young Malawians with the opportunity to gain skills and training that will provide a source of income for themselves and their families.

I see that the Rural System site states that you are a philanthropic for profit entity. At this time, I do not have the resources through the Mission to Malawi to fund such a program. I am interested in your work and how you have applied it to other sub-Saharan climates. (For more information on the Mission to Malawi, please log on to"

Several projects by faculty and students on the country can be found with a Search command at Virginia Tech.

The program coordinator for Malawi, The Rev. Philip Bouknight, pastor of pastor of the Floyd-Willis Parish in Floyd, VA.

Rev. Philip Bouknight
P.O. Box 37
Floyd, VA 24091
(540) 745-2096
also Philip Bouknight
     I wait for no proof of a special need of a person to urge me to help him


Capitol - Lilongwe

10.7 million people, 66% Christian

45,745 sq.mi. (118,480 sq. km.)

Over 600 species of birds Birding tours possible with guide services.

The Elephant Marsh located in the Shire Valley, southern Malawi is a haven for bird watchers.

Excursions for bird watching (200+ birds) are taken into the Dzalanyama Forest Reserve.

List of National Parks etc.

Mount Mulanje is one of Malawi's most spectacular sights, with its highest peak being Sapitwa at 3,002 m. The mountain covers an area of more than 1,000 sq km. On its slopes grow the Mulanje cedars, some of them over 200 years old. Deep gorges, impressive waterfall and trout streams cut their paths from its heights, while in the lush foothills are tea plantations.

There is an angling society - Angling Society of Malawi, PO Box 744, Blantyre

There are rare fish species and tropical fish and this may offer fish watching potentials and an alternative specialized market for publications, divers, and glass-bottomed boats. There are trout and stream fishing may be an emphasis in some area.

I have begun investigating GIS data available for the country through the Conservation Management Institute at Va Tech and through Contours(Bill Card .

The perceived significant conditions:

Rural System
seeking to break the hold of dependence on governement and NGOs to protect the environment, and on existing large corporations to provide wealth. We seek to unite the entire human community in a seamless market organized on a set of stable managed human benefits. That requires sophisticated modern natural resource management.

First thoughts about potential actions/projects

Successful rural change needs a combination of

  1. technological knowledge
  2. political leadership
  3. broad social participation

A village as a center of expansion can be set on a path of development at a high cost and the techniques and tools used there can be duplicated at a tiny cost for use elsewhere.

The perceived investment needs (as for many African rural communities):

From Jeff Sachs, 2005, The End of Poverty,

p.288 - "The more one looks at it, the more one sees that the question isn't whether the rich can afford to help the poor, but whether they can afford not to."

"1.1 billion people live in extreme poverty today."

p. 289 "We have to identify the specific, proven, low-cost interventions that can make a difference in living standards and economic growth."

p. 310 "Contrary to popular perception, the amount of air per African per year is really very small, just $30 per sub-Saharan African in 2002 from the entire world." (and only $12 of this goes to Africans themselves, thus there is little evidence of that aid on the ground...almost no feedback, no incentives for continuing.)

The prescription of the past, that science will conquor all problems, is now evidently wrong. The problem is too complex for science, too social, political, dynamic and singular in time and place. Scientific "control" is not possible. Of course it can continue to assist. I perceive a systems approach is needed.

p. 323 "There is no danger of poverty reduction efforts to add to a population explosion. "A concerted effort to end extreme poverty in Africa would be the best guarantor of ending today's population explosion, and doing so quickly, voluntarily, and in a way that empowers households to meet their personal objectives of human betterment."

Premise: everyone who touches Rural System makes money. It is a designed with incentives throughout for diversification, synergism, value adding, all to maximize shared gains and to reduce costs and risks, all with a 150-year planning period (at least that of the life of a tree).

See tourism ideas re Africa

Useful links at - a world directory

African Development Foundation

Perhaps you will share ideas with me about some of the topic(s) above .


Rural System
Robert H. Giles, Jr.
July 3, 2005