The hillsides are covered in different shades of green and Malawi is particularly breathtaking! Yet even in the rainy season, there are weeks where we don’t see a drop of rain. While the children rejoice at more days of playing outside, those who depend on farming to eat are very worried. They watch as their maize crops slowly dry and die. They are counting on the harvest to feed their family for the rest of the year, but now they aren’t sure they can feed their family tomorrow.
So how do they cope?
Households under this kind of stress cope in ways positive and negative. Some families search for and eat wild fruits and leafy vegetables which may be more nutritious, a positive result in a stressful circumstance. But usually negative coping mechanisms outweigh the positive. Families feel pressure to sell animals they have, or go to dangerous places to find food. Some will send their children to live with relatives who can afford to feed them. Others go to the forest late in the evening to illegally cut down trees to sell as firewood. Some families may be tempted to marry off their daughters—one less mouth to feed. Female heads of households may turn to sex in order to provide for their family. While many may survive this tough season, lasting damage results from those coping mechanisms.
I have heard for a few weeks that the rain situation in the south is even worse. I was concerned about the girls that we work with that formerly engaged in transactional sex. Many are no longer practicing transactional sex, instead finding other ways to earn an income and withstand the pressure of powerful, older men. With this dry spell, however, I wondered how many would be forced to return to it in order to feed themselves and their families. Last week, I went to see the situation for myself. While I noticed that most of the crops will not produce much, I was encouraged by how the girls were supporting one another. They had taken the income they earned from their shared garden and made loans to individual girls that wanted to start a small business. The girls continue to meet together and encourage one another. I pray that they will support one another emotionally and financially so that none of them have to return to transactional sex.
Please continue to pray for these girls, that they will obtain the skills they need to get a job or start businesses that can support them and their families.
Please pray for the people in our region whose crops have been destroyed by pests and lack of rain.
Finally, pray that families will be open to trying new initiatives that will help them be more prepared for the challenge of changing weather patterns and specifically inconsistent rainfall.
Thank you for your partnership and prayers.
World Renew Malawi