Farmers in Balaka and Mangochi districts are using coping mechanisms to adapt to the effects of climate change, with a view to enhance food and nutrition security, a recent visit to the two districts has revealed.
The interventions they are employing are aimed at building their resilience to negative climate change effects. These include watershed management and use of locally made organic manure for enhanced soil productivity as fertility levels continue decline.
“What you are seeing are water harvesting structures,” said Zalungo Konola, pointing at trenches, swales and eye brow shaped like features on what he identified as Dedza Hill in Kalino village, a common occurrence in Traditional Authority Mponda’s in Mangochi district.
“Until 2018, we have lost hundreds of houses and valuable property to floods and droughts,” explained Konola, a former chairperson for the area’s civil protection committee that is charged with overseeing disaster preparedness and early warning systems.
Watershed management reduces water flow, discourages soil erosion and enhances water holding capacity for improved crop harvest. Similar watershed management structures are also a common site in Chimdikiti village in the area of Traditional Authority Kalembo in Balaka district.
“From a garden where I used to harvest three bags, I am now able to harvest 13 bags of maize,” said 42-year-old Hawa Dickson.
From forest restoration through regeneration to the establishment of woodlots in their homesteads, communities have also adopted the use of energy saver stoves. These are stoves that use about three times less the amount of firewood used on traditional three stone fireplace.
All these initiatives are part of the Promoting Sustainable Partnerships for Empowered Resilience – PROPSER by the United Nations and an NGO private sector consortium led by Concern Worldwide, with a MK57 billion funding from UK aid.
UN Coordinator for the project Sarah Kohnstamm, the four-year project which commenced in December 2018 seeks to strengthen resilience of 950,000 poor and vulnerable people to climate and weather-related shocks in Balaka, Chikwawa, Mangochi and Phalombe districts.