Wednesday, 17 February 2016

Guest blog | The effect of El Niño in Malawi

Since mid-2015 now, the world has witnessed one of the strongest weather events of El Niño – a global weather phenomenon that affects rain patterns and temperatures around the world. It has triggered droughts and floods across Africa, Asia and Latin America, and now nearly 100 million people are facing shortages of food and water, and are open to disease. Malawi is suffering from its first maize deficit in a decade, driving prices 73% higher than they were in December.

We at Lendwithcare asked Danny, who volunteers at our microfinance partner organisation in Malawi, how the recent droughts were affecting the country, and in particular, borrowers:

“Agriculture makes up over a third of Malawi’s economy and activity. As the vast majority of our clients live in rural communities and rely on farming for at least part of their income. Therefore the drought has affected some members directly, due to their crops wilting in the field and others have been affected indirectly, due to the increased price of maize.

In response, at MicroLoan Foundation Malawi we have continued to support our members’ livelihoods and food security through the training and support networks they receive via our group methodology. This training includes modules on handling finances in times of hardship, to ensure there is enough for the family. Combined with the savings that our clients have built up through their successful microenterprises, this puts them in a good position to maintain their health and living standards through the drought.”

MicroLoan Foundation Malawi also provides extensive training to its clients, before and after they receive their loan. Further to training sessions, MLF-Malawi also provides free agricultural extension to local farmers, to help them improve their yield. This training takes place on the farmers’ own land, and covers topics such as how far apart to space seeds, how to prepare land and how to apply fertiliser. You can read more about the training and services they offer on our website here.

Danny, currently in Malawi, went on to say: “We have also rolled out our tilime programme across different parts of the country. This is where, instead of making monetary loans, we provide the materials required for farming, such as tools, machinery, seeds and fertiliser. The borrowers then pay us back the cost of the materials they’ve borrowed, using the profits from their farming business. This programme places a strong emphasis on food security and we've particularly done a lot recently replacing seeds that have a poor germination rate. We are potentially looking at rolling out tilime as standard training for all of our clients later this year.”

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