Whether from the lake or as rain, freshwater – or lack thereof – is a key issue for the communities we work with.
This World Water Day, we take a look at how we’re working to support people in an area where water directly impacts everything: from how much food there is to eat, to how likely you are to fall ill.
Farming for the future
Climate change is a devastating reality for the communities of Nkhata Bay North – especially as nine in ten people are subsistence farmers, growing just enough to feed themselves and their families. With most relying on rain-fed crops like cassava and maize, the big question each year is when the rains will come – or if there’ll be any at all.
In recent years, the area has experienced increasingly extreme weather events, from severe floods to drought and erratic rains. By growing just one or two types of food, families are vulnerable to these climate shocks – just one spell of drought, or flood, can destroy the entire crop.
We support farmers to become more resilient to our changing climate, by training them in envronmentally sustainable agriculrutal methods and helping them to grow a variety of crops. Growing crops which mature at different times of the year helps to avoid the risk of the entire harvest failing, as well as supporting people through the ‘hunger months’, when reserves are low but the next harvest is yet to come.
The impacts of global climate change are only going to get worse for people in Nkhata Bay North, but, with our support, more farmers are gaining the skills and knowledge needed to adapt to extreme weather events.
Improving community health through safe water
As a country, Malawi remains near the bottom of almost every global health index. Where we work, rates of malaria and parasitic diseases are especially high – due in part to the proximity of the lake, and the lack of alternative water sources.
Whilst malaria is a problem across the whole of Malawi, large bodies of water – like the lake – provide the perfect breeding ground for disease-carrying mosquitoes. Where we work, falling ill with malaria is almost as much an accepted fact of life as catching a common cold: the annual infection rates are as high as 1,500 cases per 1,000 people, meaning, on average, someone will contract malaria 1.5 times a year.
Without treatment, malaria is fatal – but even if people are able to access medicines (up to a nine-hour walk away), it still causes a lengthy period of sickness, meaning people are unable to work, farm, or go to school. This means that, when children and teenagers contract malaria, they often have to miss out on valuable schooling. That’s why, as part of our secondary school bursary programme, this year we’re also providing malaria nets to beneficiaries, to reduce transmission rates and improve school attendance levels.
Support us this World Water Day
Your support helps us continue to deliver these projects – from training farmers to adapt to unpredictable rainfall, to providing more filters and malaria nets to combat waterborne diseases. Donate today, or take on a sponsored challenge for us this summer.