According to recent government estimates, as many as 6.5 million people in Malawi, or 40% of the population, are in urgent need of humanitarian food assistance and will remain so until early 2017.
With food prices at a five year high, over 193% above the five year average (FEWSnet.org), and more than 30% of the country’s cultivated land affected by drought, the government has announced a new Food Insecurity Response Plan, which will run until the next harvest in March 2017.
Food security therefore remains a key concern for Temwa and the communities of Nkhata Bay North. Without the resources or the remit to repeat the emergency food distribution that reached 1000 households earlier this year, Temwa has come up with another way to try and support our beneficiaries through these precarious times.
We have redesigned our agriculture and forestry programmes to better provide individual households and their communities with the knowledge to mitigate and better adapt to extreme weather and the longer-term effects of climate change. We’re excited to announce that we have now secured funding to undertake these activities and hope they will contribute to ensuring food security in Nkhata Bay North.
The first element of these new mitigation activities was successfully completed in July, when over 50 Temwa staff and volunteers completed a week-long climate change training workshop at our headquarters in Mzuzu.
The course, which was run by a team of in-country experts, provided an understanding of the causes and effects of climate change and a range of measures to reduce its impact. Topics covered a range of agricultural techniques, such as crop diversification, organic farming methods, inter-cropping and agro-forestry, as well as tools to support effective communication strategies with Temwa’s beneficiaries.
The next stage of the programme is for staff and volunteers to share their newly acquired knowledge with approximately 160 lead farmers from Temwa’s current agriculture programme and representatives of village natural resource committees, who in turn will share this know-how within their communities.
One course participant commented on climate change, “It’s a big subject…, but what I can’t forget is the impact climate change has had on all of us and yet we had no idea we could do something to mitigate the impacts thereof.”
This comment is a perfect reflection of what we are trying to achieve through these new mitigation and adaption activities: to instil the belief in as many people as possible in the Nkhata Bay North area that there are innovative ways to tackle both the causes and effects of climate change, whilst also providing them with practical knowledge of sustainable agricultural techniques to create successful, climate-resistant harvests for years to come.