The worst floods in over three decades struck Malawi between January and March 2015 destroying most of the farm land and reducing crop production in 25 of 28 districts. Around 230,000 people were displaced and 276 reported dead or missing. This year the south east African nation faces crop shortages again due to El-Nino. The phenomenon that is El Niño is commonly associated with delayed and decreased rainfall in the region and has reduced yields and pushed households to adopt negative coping strategies reinforcing the chronic malnutrition that is already widespread in the region. This had led to nearly 29 million people becoming food insecure in the southern Africa region. In Malawi, 16% of the population or 2.8 million people are at risk according to the World Food Programme (WFP). Without immediate assistance, the existing food insecurity will deepen and increase in scope with effects that will last till 2017. According to the WFP, the 2016 harvest is expected to be 12% less than last year.
The government appears to be overwhelmed by this challenge. The public maize silos that are used as a back up to provide the population with food in times of crisis have been depleted following last year’s bad harvest. The government has started to import maize from Zambia, which is also hit by current El Nino, but the efforts are too little and the financial capacity too limited to support all vulnerable populations. Prices have therefore tripled to around 20 USD per 50 kg bag, unaffordable fort he overwhelming population especially in rural areas that depends on 30-40USD per month. In April the president has announced the full national disaster state and started to ask the international community for food support to alleviate hunger in the impoverished, landlocked nation.
Maize is the staple food in Malawi and was originally introduced by the British during the colonial era. The plant needs a lot of water during its flowering phase and is very vulnerable to drought. 50 kg of maize are sufficient to support one family for one month.
In anticipation of increased risks of malnutrition and hunger, Kunyumba e.V. has decided to support the local community around Senga Bay by buying bags of maize for the most vulnerable populations.
Our maize donation with 150 bags started Easter Monday at 10am. Through the different churches and mosques as well as Kunyumba staff the people were informed and many arrived already 2 hours before the official start. We were deeply impressed by the high attendance as most people did not have a mobile phone to contact them individually. Some people walked up to 10 kilometres to be present. Also, four village Chiefs and the Group Village Headman attended the donation, which was a great sign of local support.
3 days prior to the donation, the truck with over 7,5 tons of maize arrived in Senga Bay. Unfortunately the truck was too big for the entrance of Kunyumba and had to be carried by several people 100 meters from the truck to the storage point, which was a lot of work! However, everyone was happy and got a bottle of coke when this action was finished.
Our manager Peter Chasowa opened the donation with a small speech, welcoming the people and presenting Kunyumba Trust. He urged the people not to sell the maize and thanked the numerous donors without the distribution would not have been possible.
In the following three hours everybody received his/ her big of maize and walked with the 50kg on the head back home. We offered to transport the bags home to the elderly and disabled people on the following day, but most of them declined politely explaining that there was no food at home and that they needed the bag immediately. This shows how dire the situation for many households was and how much needed the bags of maize were for them.
Many people were forced to harvest prematurely which in return drastically reduces the yield of maize, as normal harvest time in this area is usually in May. Thanks to the donations that greatly exceeded our expectations we have sufficient funds to continue the support for another two months.
In this regard we would like to thank you all again for your support that has truly helped so many people. Below you will find some pictures from Monday.
Zikomo kwambiri ndi tsiku labwino! (Thanks a lot and a good day!)