A call for local adaptations in fighting climate change

Maria Karinga is a 32-year old farmer from Masulana village, Karonga District, in the dry savannah zone on the Tanzanian - Malawian border. She is a wife and a mother of five. She is just one of the hundreds that have been struggling with shifting weather patterns meddling with their ability to feed their family and make a living.

The last time she saw a good harvest was four years ago. It's been four years since the last rainfall.

After every harvest, I would make something like $1000 USD, we were living happily as a family and my children were all going to school

 Maria explains while sharing her story with me.

She shows me around her land where she grows maize, kale and millet. The unreliability of rainfall makes harvesting unpredictable. If lucky, her five acres of land would manage one sack of maize and sometimes when luck is not on her side she would have to make do with nothing. As with most of the families in Masulana, Maria depends almost entirely on the land for producing food and generating income through crop farming, dry season gardening and animal keeping. But the growing frequency of severe drought continues to destroy crops, with scarce water supply and the nearest river Kyungu all dried up. Their means of income is dying slowly, so is their hope. As if that's not enough, there have been increases in animal diseases and hunger and poverty have spread tremendously. For Maria’s family, the lack of food during the dry season has become a yearly ritual. Being forced to eat once a day has had a negative impact on her children’s health and their education. Some of them have been too sick to attend schools and others have dropped out. For Maria hope is nowhere in sight.

In recent years, farming has become more difficult. The soils are less fertile, seeds have become more expensive to acquire and the rains either come too early or too late

Getrude Chinangwa, District Environment Officer and a farmer, informed me that 75% of the people in Karonga District are food Insecure and that Karonga is the most vulnerable to climate change catastrophes.

Using compost manure instead of buying inorganic fertilizer and recognizing that deforestation hurts the environment and knowing how best to invest in our farms is the key to increasing our crop yields

Getrude explains as she received the caravan at the Tanzanian-Malawian border.

She believes that openness to learning new skills and diversifying farming systems is an important example of how farmers need to adapt in the face of the serious impacts of climate change.

Until local innovation in adapting to climate change is taken seriously, the fight against climate change will remain a one-sided battle.

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