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Published on 28 September 2021

When Cyclone Idai devastated Southern Malawi in 2019, Fred Carlos was one of the 186 people who found refuge in a local school.

Fred camped at the school for three months, entirely dependent on the goodwill of others. “I was hopeless and homeless. I lost my chickens and crops to the floods.”

Fred Carlos, 62, lost everything he owned after Cyclone Idai. Six months after the devastation, Fred was able to start earning an income again by raising four female goats and one male goat.

Credit: Christian Aid/ Malumbo Simwaka

Image credits and information i
Fred Carlos, 62, with the goats that he was given by Christian Aid local partner Eagles in Matekenya Village Credit: Malumbo Simwaka
Fred Carlos, a black man in a wheel chair aged 62, with the goats that he was given by Christian Aid local partner Eagles

Three million people were affected by Cyclone Idai in Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe. Fierce winds, heavy rains and widespread flooding ripped apart roads, houses, schools and health facilities, and submerged vast swathes of agricultural land.

The flooding in southern Malawi was particularly severe and pushed a large number of people, like Fred, into poverty and food insecurity. With homes, crops and livestock destroyed, many people were left without shelter, income or food. People living in poverty battled the worst of a climate crisis they did not create.

Joyce Mhango was four months pregnant when the cyclone destroyed her home. She and her husband did not have enough money to both rebuild their house and eat. Faced with an unenviable choice, they moved to the displacement camp. Joyce said, “It was hard to find food. I couldn’t even earn enough money to take me to the hospital for my routine check-ups. We were miserable, just trying to survive.”

For the first six months after Cyclone Idai, Christian Aid partners supported the most vulnerable people with cash, food, mosquito nets, and seeds and tools to start farming again. But after their most immediate needs were met, the reality of the life-changing devastation hit hard. Fred said, “When we were told to return to our homes by government officials, our life became miserable again because I had nothing to rely on.”

Climate change changes lives. It destroys people’s hopes and expectations for the future. It makes life unbearably hard. It is one of the greatest injustices people face.

Our partners came alongside those who were left most vulnerable. They organised three thousand farming households into irrigation schemes and supported them to produce high-value crops like beans and sweet potatoes. They encouraged people to receive training in vocational skills such as tailoring, welding or carpentry. This resilience work has been a lifeline for Fred and Joyce.

Joyce Mhango, 25, tailoring a customer's dress, with other dresses that she has made in the background, in Mbande, Chikwawa District, Southern Malawi, in March 2021.

Credit: Christian Aid/ Malumbo Simwaka

Joyce Mhango, a black woman smiles from behind her sewing machine

Over the course of three months, Joyce learned to be a tailor. The scheme provided her with the equipment she needed to set up a small tailoring business. Joyce now earns a reliable income and is able to support her family.  “If it wasn’t for this organisation helping me to develop tailoring skills I wouldn’t have been a happy person. Today I am financially independent and am able to do things for myself.”

Fred, meanwhile, is now the proud owner of five goats. Two of the goats have given birth to kids which he will sell on to earn some income. If it wasn’t for Christian Aid intervening, with funding from the DEC, my life wouldn’t have been the same.”

As COP26 approaches, let us keep God’s vision of a more just world in our mind’s eye and hope in our hearts. Let us stand together, raising our voices in prayer and petition to create lasting change before it is too late.

Get involved in campaigning and praying for climate justice.

Partner Agencies
Eagles Relief and Development Programme (EAGLES) and Churches Action in Relief and Development (CARD)