With a wife and three children to support, William Pitikoti felt helpless.
A dangerous combination of floods and dry spells had left his parcel of maize useless and him desperate, not knowing how long he would be able to sustain his family.
“I got almost nothing from my one acre maize field as much of the crop was damaged by excessive rains in the month of January. Unfortunately what was left dried before maturity due to early cut-off of the rains,” shared William.
William’s home in Machinga and neighboring District of Balaka in Malawi, communities that are heavily reliant on agriculture, have been plagued by strong winds, flash floods and continuous rains, but there is still hope. Hope in the shape of PCI’s Njira Emergency Relief Program (NERP).
In the midst of unpredictable weather, farmers not only lost crops, but became unable to buy seed for replanting, creating a perilous situation for the residents and an impending food crisis. These two districts were declared disaster zones by the Government of Malawi and something had to be done.
In Malawi, a landlocked country in Southern Africa, agriculture is the primary industry and employs over 80 percent of the working age population. Food insecurity, drought and infectious disease are some of the many obstacles that the communities face. Operating in Malawi since 2007, PCI has empowered communities to improve maternal and child health, nutritional status, women’s empowerment, infectious disease care and prevention, and disaster readiness.
To address the emergency situation, PCI and its core implementing partner, Emmanuel International (EI), partnered with United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to launch a rapid response to address the growing concern in Balaka and Machinga. Njira’s purpose is to address underlying causes of food security, particularly among the most vulnerable by increasing the livelihood, health, nutrition and resilience of its households.
Aimed at preventing a crisis derived from lost crops, the project grants broader access to seed and vegetative planting materials with the goal of empowering a communities to achieve sustainable food security.
“Had it not been for this project, I would have been relying on “ganyu”
[piece work] to get money to buy food for my family,” said William. “Today I am able to provide for my family, thanks to USAID through NERP.”
Across the Balaka and Machinga districts, Njira will benefit a total of 63,472 households and 244,248 direct beneficiaries. William and his fellow community members are now able to sell their homegrown vegetables in order to buy food and other household items, as well as improve the nutritive status of their families. Further, the project is aiding the districts holistically by identifying the priority needs of each community, building strategic partnerships that build up the communities, and forming Care Groups that support health and nutrition goals.
“I am now confident my family will not starve this season because USAID through Njira, has helped to save our community. As I am selling vegetables, my maize is doing well and I expect to harvest three 50 kg bags of grain. Me and my family owe this to USAID, our lives have been saved,” said William.
At the heart of PCI is helping families like William’s not only live, but thrive, by creating opportunities for them to lift themselves out of poverty and make a real impact on their communities.
Photos by Richard Parker, VP, Marketing & Communications, PCI