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Pangs of Cyclone Idai hit Phalombe

AFFECTED—Villagers interact with journalists and Oxfam members of staff

NOT PROMISING—Part of farmland in Phalombe

Early March this year, the country was hit hard by Cyclone Idai, causing panic, fear and displacing thousands of Malawians-—the rains used to grow crops swallowed the crops.

International Organisation for Migration recor   indicate that over 80,000 Malawians were affected by the cyclone that caused floods in Phalombe, Chikwawa , Nsanje and Zomba districts.

Accompanied by heavy winds, the floods swept away houses, crops were submerged and livestock died.

Overall, the country recorded 60 deaths and 672 people were injured according to the Department of Disaster Managements.

Seven months down the line now, it has been established that most families in Phalombe, where 22,848 people were affected, need food urgently.

The need is forcing some men to leave their wives and children and cross into neigbouring Mozambique to work.

The sight of temporary shelters and dry cracked land greets one when getting to Nampinga Village, Traditional Authority (T/A) Kaduya.

During a visit to the areas, villagers wore sombre faces, the joy brought to them by Oxfam overshadowed by fear of hunger.

Whenever asked, mostly women, some with babies on their backs, could hardly hide their need but answer in unison: “Njala, chakudya tilibe hunger, (we do not have food),” they echoed.

Nampinga is among several villages that Oxfam has reached out to through a cash transfer programme to help affected families buy food and necessities.

In spite such assistance, it was still evident that more support is needed.

HIT BY DISASTER—Areas of Phalombe

Oxfam has assisted the people but it would take months before the small scale farmer starts benefitting from their irrigation initiatives.

Oxfam Field Manager in Phalombe, Samuel Meya, says there is food shortage in the country.

“We saw that people were still vulnerable. They still had problems and we thought of coming with something that people can do in their areas and we pay them.

“They will be able to buy some food and raise nutrition of their families using the money they get,” Meya says.

In Group Village Head Thunga, T/A Kaduya, Oxfam has helped villagers to dig trenches for use in irrigation.

Oxfam has also distributed seedlings, pesticides, water canes and other farming equipment.

While expressing gratitude for the help, Village Head Thunga could not conceal her village’s concerns.

“We do not have food,” she says.

Members of Makande Scheme in her village say most men are flocking to Mozambique to work due to food shortage in their area.

Out of 102 members of the scheme, 81 are women while 21 are men.

This, they say, confirms that most men do not have time to do irrigation work but search for the daily bread.

Samson Manjolo, who is a community-based volunteer in Namasoko Village T/A Nkhumba, says members of the community are accumulating debts saying they borrow money for food hoping to repay using what they are getting from Oxfam.

“Food scarcity has hit us hard as compared to past years. Out of every 100 people, only about 20 harvested from their fields. There is a continuous need for food,” he says.

Manjolo harvested only one-and-half bags of maize this year compared to 10 realised from his field last year.

Oxfam has reached out to 277 people in Namasoko who have benefitted from the cash transfer projects.

In Nampinga Village, 237 beneficiaries have been helped to dig a dam to be used for irrigation.

The dam will be tapping water from a river that is 400 metres away.

These are 2,700 beneficiaries of Oxfam’s social transfer project which will cost K94 million.

Despite this support, there are many villagers who still need food.

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