The Malawi Post Disaster Needs Assessment 2019, estimated that 975,000 people were affected by Cyclone Idai, among which 86 976 were displaced, 60 killed and 672 injured.
Kadyamba Village from Traditional Authority (T/A) Mbenje in Nsanje with a population of 242 households was among those displaced by Cyclone Idai in 2019. The village, which is situated along the Shire Riverbanks, was among the most severely affected communities in Nsanje.
But even though many people regard the disasters caused by Cyclone Idai as the worst ever, the people of Kadyamba have a totally different view. They have had such terrible experiences of disasters caused by the flooding of Shire River year after year, and 2019’s was no exception. “Our terrible experiences with disasters are enormous,” said Esther Batumeyo, 49, in an interview.
TARGETED FOR DISASTER RESPONSE
Kadyamba Village was one of the villages targeted for disaster response by the Evangelical Association of Malawi (EAM), with support from Dan Church Aid (DCA), under the Building Resilience and Early Recovery in Response to Cyclone Idai (Brida) Project. The project, which was implemented for nine months from October 2019 to June 2020 was aimed at building resilience and early recovery for 1,000 households affected by Cyclone Idai in TA Mbenje (Kadyamba and Tizola villages) and TA Malemia (Mbangu village) through unconditional cash transfer, goat pass on and afforestation.
In all the three villages a total of 1,000 households benefited from unconditional cash transfer, 229 households benefited from the goat pass on scheme, 220 households received mango fruit tree seedlings and 3,094 natural tree seedlings were planted for re afforestation purposes.
Through it, 242 households from Kadyamba Village were supported with cash transfers; 48 households received 240 goats on pass on scheme. Each household received five goats and each is expected to pass on the same number to the next beneficiary on the next set of 48 households on the second string.
Additionally, 60 households received mango fruit trees, with each household receiving five tree seedlings while a total of 439 natural trees were planted in the village woodlot.
“This is the first time for me since birth as a community member from Kadyamba Village to receive goats,” explained Batumeyo. Another member of the community, Samalani Mkandawayera attested to the fact that the support they received from EAM was long lasting. He said: “We did not know how to plant trees or graft them when this village was in T/A Mlolo along the Shire Riverbank. Our lives were never at peace because floods would hit us all the time during the rainy season. We are now thankful to this project because it did not only give us cash to buy food for our immediate needs, but it also taught us how to plant trees and graft them. The project has also taught us the dangers of living along the flooding areas and how to cope with floods among many other things.” The community also hailed EAM for living up to their word by delivering on all the promises they made.
KNOWLEDGE AND SKILLS
In 2015, Government relocated the people of Kadyamba Village to a safer place in T/A Mbenje’s area but many of them moved back due to limited access to livelihoods to support their families. Since October 2019 through the Brida project, only one household out of 73 has moved back. “We cannot go back to stay along the flood prone areas. We have gained knowledge and skills which will help us improve our livelihoods. We do not want to lose our resources through floods again,” said Batumeyo, while explaining her experience with floods and how the project has built her resilience.
The Agricultural Extension Development Coordinator Mr Cosmas Musowa hailed EAM for closely working with government extension staff especially those in the department of agriculture and forestry which he said significantly contributed to the project success. “The project gave us the opportunity to refresh our professional skills through the training sessions that were offered through this Resilience building project,” said Musowa. Although the project phased out there is every reason to believe that the investments made will have long lasting impact as far as coping with natural disasters is concerned.