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A welcome water supply for Malawi farmers

March 2014

Many of us in the UK can access water simply by turning on a tap. But in Malawi, millions of farmers who rely on rain to grow their crops are struggling because of increasingly erratic rainfall.

This World Water Day (22 March), we celebrate the teamwork of a local Malawian organisation and 63 families who have built an irrigation system which gives them more options, more security and more food.

Surviving on one meal a day

Magalita is a single mum and a maize farmer trying to feed her three children in desperate circumstances; her annual maize crop usually only feeds them for half the year.

A woman bends down by a waterfall

Magalita recalls: ‘Once the food from the harvest ran out, sometimes there would be six months left before the next harvest. I would do casual labour to get food. I would help people in their fields.

‘Most years we can make it through, but we always have to reduce the number of meals we eat. We eat just one meal a day during the hunger months.’

Hungry for lasting change

The Evangelical Association of Malawi (EAM), a local organisation that we fund, came to talk to Magalita’s community about the changes they could make to help them most.

  • I was hungry, I wanted to get some income, and I wanted to be able to support my children at school.’

Magalita said: ‘We wanted to work on an irrigation project because the community on the other side of the river had one which was working really well.

‘I was hungry, I wanted to get some income, and I wanted to be able to support my children at school.’

Signs of hope

The irrigation system runs water from a river along canals which feed 63 family plots of land on the slope of a hill.

Even in the middle of dry season you can hear the trickle of water coming out of pipes, filtering down through furrows and in to the earth.

Bright green vegetables burst out of the striking orange soil as Magalita’s maize crop starts to run out.  It looks and sounds like hope.

On her plot of land, Magalita can grow additional crops, boosting her annual crop by 15% just at the time when she needs it.

‘By the grace of God it came just when we needed it. It came when we most needed hope. So between the crops from the irrigation system and casual labour we make it through the year.’

How you can help

With your help, we can help more farming communities like Magalita’s to cope with changing weather patterns.

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