Weather conditions in Malawi have become more unpredictable than ever. Severe flooding destroyed much of the harvest in 2015 and was followed by a prolonged drought in 2016. Families have been unable to harvest enough food to survive. Because of this, Villages in Partnership is investing in solar powered irrigation technology. This will allow the villagers with whom we partner to become less dependent on the weather for the success of their harvest. Thanks to the incredible generosity of the VIP family, we were able to raise enough money to bring solar irrigation to the villages of Sakata in 2017. Our executive director, Liz Heinzel-Nelson, traveled to Malawi earlier this month, and worked with the VIP staff to secure land from the village of Muluwira for the first irrigation site.
Muluwira is one of the original 16 villages with whom VIP began partnering in 2009. A majority Muslim village, Muluwira has been hit particularly hard by the past year’s famine. A recent survey by VIP personnel found that only 3% of families in Muluwira reported having enough food to last until the next harvest.
In order to impact as many people as possible, VIP will work with vulnerable families and extremely motivated farmers to rent land from land owners during the dry season. We will initially irrigate 5 hectares of land catering to 80 farmers, but we will eventually expand to 10 hectares and over 150 farmers. The renting farmers will use the irrigation system so that they can grow crops during the dry season. The land will then be returned to the land owners during the rainy season, so that they can grow their normal crops. The landowners will have the added bonus of access to the irrigation system if the rains are not steady during the growing season. It’s truly a win-win!