The Plight and Promise in Southern Africa

The Plight and Promise in Southern Africa

Publication info

Posted
1/4/17

Southern Africa is a source of great people, potential and possibility. It’s also right now a place of great challenge and uncertainty, as extreme weather conditions such as El Niño have produced a severe drought that threatens 40 million people. Malawi — where I recently visited — is a microcosm of that: Nearly half the country’s population is at risk of hunger and malnutrition. Harvests have failed, and livestock have died. Mothers fear they can’t feed their children, some of whom are held home from school in order to watch their siblings or make a little more money for their families. The problems here can feel overwhelming. They may not have the sudden onset of an earthquake or cyclone, but they’re every bit a disaster.  

In Malawi, many people already live in poverty, on just a dollar or two a day. They’re already close to the hunger line, even when their crops do come in. Now think of them with their savings depleted, no seeds for the next planting. Theirs is a grueling reality. And they’re fighting hard to push through it. That’s what struck me so, beyond the sheer challenge they face: the resilience, hope and courage that drive them through the toughest, leanest days. During my visit there, I saw what happens when the strength and resolve of people intersect with CARE programs that not only bring food to the plates of their children, but also help them move beyond the crisis.

That’s what we’re able to do with support from so many partners. We’re delivering food today, even as we help families build their capacity to meet tomorrow’s challenges with better farming techniques, drought-resistant seeds, village savings groups and more crop diversity.

I met Sarah, for example, who had switched from farming maize to growing the more drought-resistant cassava. She showed me her new crop and told me how it had doubled her family’s income from last year. She showed me the cook stove where she prepares meals for her family – more safely, efficiently and nutritiously. (By the time we had met with other families in her village and pulled out to leave, we discovered Sarah was already back at her roadside stand selling her cassava.)

People like Sarah tell us, “We want to stand on our own two feet.” Our longstanding programs in the region help them do exactly that — harnessing the power of the people to improve life for their families. Thanks to them — and to support from people like you — the situation in southern Africa is not hopeless. It’s hopeful. Check out my related vlog post for more on-the-ground insight from my trip — including a campaign we’re calling #DreamWithHer, an innovative, interactive opportunity for you to make a difference.

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Michelle Nunn - Report From Malawi

Because of the strength and resilience of the people I met in Malawi and support from people like you, the crisis in southern Africa -- where a severe drought threatens 40 million people -- is not hopeless.