Eleanor Kenti, a 55 year old mother of five has experienced the combination of floods and drought in Nsanje District which has resulted in the disruption of people’s livelihood and ability to produce adequate food for their families.
"I used to grow maize, beans, rice and vegetables twice a year during the rainy and winter seasons. In the past, I was able to harvest food with a lot of surplus which I could sell for income to meet other needs like sending my children to school
"Things began to change in the late 1980s and it got worse in the early 1990s when we experienced frequent floods and droughts. These changes have disrupted my ability to farm,” says Eleanor.
Although, I manage to find food to feed the family every day, it is barely enough. We manage to eat three meals a day but we get no surplus to sell. We now have floods every rainy season. The river banks burst and the fields get destroyed. Government and other organizations like ActionAid Malawi come to our aid but it is never enough
Because of these problems, the food production in her house dwindled from having food all year round reduced to four to six months now. Eleanor worries a lot about the welfare of her family especially that of her five children. Because of the high interest rates in lending institutions, Eleanor is unable to borrow money to support the needs of her family.
According to Eleanor, the families that live too close to the river banks face far worse problems during the rainy season. Their children are unable to go school and when they do go, they sometimes go without breakfast.
Eleanor belongs to a Community Based Organization and they managed to express their grievances to the District Assembly.
“What I want the most is to be self reliant even if the climate is changing. I want to grow rice, maize and also keep poultry so that I am able to feed my family. I also need subsidized fertilizers to supplement the compost manure I make,” says Eleanor.