In Malawi, agriculture is a key source of income, accounting for around 40% of GDP.
In recent decades the number of floods and droughts has increased as a result of climate change. The high reliance on rain-fed agriculture has meant that the effects of climate change have been dramatic in Malawi. Between October 2015 and March 2016, around 2.8 million people needed food assistance in the country.
Among those worst affected are the community members in Kakungu. Despite the negative impact on agriculture, people in Kakungu continued to practice bad farming methods and women were expected to walk long distances to carry fire wood meaning they were less able to contribute on their farms. As a result, families struggled to meet their basic requirements for food or save money for the future.
In response, Plan International Malawi implemented a project to equip families in Kakungu with the skills they need to produce crops even when the community is experiencing the effects of climate change.
I literally had nothing before these goats and now this has given me a purpose to live a happy family life.
Around 2,500 people have benefitted from the project which has improved agricultural practices, increased knowledge on how to prevent malnutrition and increased the voices of community members on issues around climate change that affect them.
Members of the community in Kakungu are now acting as role models for other communities who are also suffering the effects of climate change and are spreading the knowledge they have gained.
Alesi is a farmer from Kakungu. As part of the project she was provided with 4 pigs and undertook training on how to manage livestock.
Alesi said, “I gained knowledge from the training that took place. My household is much better now compared to before I received the pigs”.
She uses manure from the pigs to grow crops such as maize and vegetables. She has also sold one of her pigs to buy fertiliser and has used the money to pay for her children’s school fees.
A new purpose
George is another farmer from Kakungu. As a result of the project he owns goats and is growing several crops, making a good income from selling the surplus produce. As a result, he is now self-reliant and is able to absorb climate change shocks.
“I literally had nothing before these goats and now this has given me a purpose to live a happy family life,” he says. “I am able to use the animal dung as manure for crop production that has helped me a lot in this time when the cost of fertilisers are high and unreasonable for most smallhold farmers.”