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Helping Communities Recover After Disasters

A global pandemic, a poor rainy season, a severe tropical storm, a tropical cyclone... Malawi has definitely not been short on challenges in recent months.  

With many in rural communities now facing serious food shortages and hunger, we recently ran a Disaster Recovery Appeal in an effort to raise an additional £5,000 to help meet the increased demand on our Community Outreach services.

Thanks to your generous donations, an amazing £4,675 was raised!

Read on to find out how this has helped our team in Malawi to provide the additional support desperately needed by the children and families most affected by these disasters.

A man, woman and child stand in a muddy maize field.

Severe weather is no longer an occasional problem in Malawi

“Cyclones and tropical storms are no longer occasional events but are occurring regularly. In the past year Tropical Storm Ana and Cyclone Gombe both precipitated large amounts of rain on Malawi’s Southern Region. Feedback from our outreach visiting staff after the heavy rains is reporting that crop damage has been the main problem for our 300 outreach beneficiaries.” - Charlie McCaulder - Director, Open Arms Infant Homes

How have communities we support been affected?

A number of the 288 families currently supported by Open Arms were affected by the storms, with and estimated half suffering damage to their crops. 

The majority of families in rural Malawi rely on subsistence farming for their food and income, so natural disasters such as these are detrimental to both their livelihoods and food security. 

The photo on the right shows residual flood water on the Lower Shire near Chikwawa, from Cyclone Gombe in March 2022 that followed Tropical Storm Ana in January 2022. Those that were able to secure maize seed attempted to replant, but as the ground was still water-logged and they were heading into cooler and drier months, the maize has failed to mature and ripen.

2Nd Planting Drai

Moreover, smallholders running businesses in distant markets missed weeks of trade due to collapsed roads and bridges cutting off access. (See photo on left, taken by a member of the team in Malawi.)

The impact of this on livelihoods was particularly significant after months of on-again, off-again restrictions as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

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Food insecurity and disaster risk reinforce one another

“Disasters have shattering consequences on food security, and food-insecurity increases vulnerability, leading to a downward spiral in which rural livelihoods are increasingly eroded (Garschagen et al., 2015). In disaster situations, food-insecure people might find themselves forced to take desperate measures to address immediate needs, often compromising their livelihoods and increasing their vulnerability and exposure. ” - Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations

Meet Chisomo

Open Arms Project Officer Kondwani recently visited Chisomo and his grandmother, who are under the Community Outreach Programme. 

Their maize crop was destroyed by Tropical Storm Ana in January and their attempts to re-grow have sadly failed due to poor growing conditions. 

Watch the video below to learn more about their story...

Chisomo's story

How are Open Arms helping?

Thanks to the amazing amount raised, the Community Outreach Team have been able to increase their outreach visits to those families they consider to be most vulnerable.

This has allowed them to not only carry out their usual monitoring of the children's health and wellbeing, but assess crop growth, closely monitor food supply and provide emergency food where needed. 

With inflation continuing to escalate in Malawi and the price of maize rising by the week, the team are in the process of forward purchasing maize to ensure there is adequate supply for both the Infant Homes, as well as approximately 110 families whom - without intervention from Open Arms - will face hunger within the next few months.  

A child sitting on a man's lap being assessed by a matron.

What happens next?

None of the amazing work in Malawi could happen without your continued support. Together we have raised almost £5,000 to help families get back on their feet, but the need for ongoing care in the community very much remains.

Please consider making a donation today to help sustain these vital services.

Or for just £15 a month, you can sponsor a child in the community, ensuring they have all the support they need to thrive at home and continue moving towards independence and self sufficiency. 

Thank you!

3 people looking out at pretty Malawian scenery
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