Fifty years, fifty countries: Malawi

Climate changeFarming50 CountriesMalawi

To mark 50 years of Tearfund, we’re sharing about 50 countries where we’ve worked, celebrating God’s provision and power to transform, and praying for each of these nations. This week we’re in Malawi.

Malawi is a small country with huge beauty and potential. Tucked between Tanzania, Zambia and Mozambique, much of the country is dominated by Lake Malawi – home to more species of fish than any other lake in the world. Malawi’s people are incredibly tenacious, friendly and full of life; however, they are also facing immense challenges.

Over the last few years, Malawi has faced severe economic difficulties due in part to the changing climate. This has affected the lives of the poorest most, with 2.8 million people lacking sufficient access to food. Nearly half of all children under the age of five have stunted growth due to malnutrition. Lack of access to safe water and the spread of HIV are also significant issues.

Tearfund has been operating in Malawi since the 1990s and works across the country through eight local partners. Together, we’re promoting a way of tackling poverty known as church and community transformation: working with local churches to empower their community to lift themselves out of poverty.

The main areas of this work include building up communities’ ability to cope with climate change, responding to emergencies such as droughts, and community savings (microfinance) groups.

Desperate for change
A key part of this is a scheme known as Foundations for Farming, which shows people how to maximise the growing potential of their land, and at the same time protect the environment.

Two amazing women to have benefited from this are Polly and Sylvia. They live just 70km from each other, but their lives used to be very different.

Sylvia endured a daily battle to provide for her four children and elderly mother – her husband abandoned the family. ‘All my life I have struggled to feed my children,’ said Sylvia. ‘I am desperate for change.’

In contrast, Polly – farming the same soil in the same weather conditions – was harvesting enough to feed her husband, three children and disabled grandmother, with two bags left over to sell. The difference was the Foundations for Farming training Polly had received.

Last year, thanks to the support of people like you, our partner staff were able to train Sylvia’s community as well. Despite drought conditions, Sylvia is expecting to harvest three times more than she did the previous year.

‘I would like to thank [Tearfund’s partner] for teaching me new farming skills,’ says Sylvia. ‘My life has changed so much. Thanks to using organic fertiliser, I have enough maize to feed my family. This year I plan to sell my harvest of groundnuts and build a better house.’

In 2018, Malawi is expected to have a reasonable harvest, but prolonged dry spells and pest infestations are still likely to have an impact. So, please keep this country and its people in your prayers.

Please pray

  • Pray for the people of Malawi. Pray also for the government; that they will lead with love, integrity and transparency, and put the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable people first.
  • Pray that the Foundations for Farming programme will continue to spread, so that more people are trained to grow food food in a changing climate.
  • Pray that God will continue to bless Polly and Sylvia, and that the chains of poverty and hunger will be permanently broken in their lives.

If you'd like to know more, please visit our Malawi page. And if you've missed any other articles in this series you can find them here.