It’s almost noon and Margaret Kalombola (36) walks home after a productive day in her garden near Domasi River in Zomba, southern Malawi. Her current crop is her second this year. It’s hard work but she believes that irrigation farming saved her family during the hunger months of October to March.
"When I first began irrigation farming last year, I increased the amount of maize harvested from two to twelve bags,” says Margaret, a widow who looks after nine children – five of her own and four others from her late sister. “I expect to double that amount this year, as I will harvest three times, first in March and then in August and November.”
Margaret, who grows a variety of crops, adds that she expects her life to change dramatically, from poverty and hunger to having enough food. She is also looking forward to earning some income through selling surplus crops from her garden.
Margaret is among the 2,800 people currently benefiting from the Namasalima Irrigation Project in Zomba which is funded by UN World Food programme and implemented by Emmanuel International. The project, launched in August 2012, targets smallholder farmers affected by flash floods. It aims to improve the livelihoods of farmers and increase their crop yields. The farmers have been trained in best agricultural production practices, improved quality seed systems, and conservation agriculture.
“This irrigation project has saved many poor families from hunger,” says group village headman Namasalima. “There was no need to ask for help with food for those who did not harvest enough.”
Namasalima irrigation project is one of 31 projects belonging to a Disaster Risk Reduction initiative entitled African Adaptation Programme. Funded by the Government of Japan, with support from the Malawian Government, WFP and the United Nations Development Programme, the scheme aims to promote climate change adaptation activities in Malawi.
“The Namasalima project is an excellent example of how WFP is helping communities living in disaster-prone areas to be food secure,” says WFP Disaster Risk Reduction Officer Duncan Ndhlovu . “We aim to build resilience for 98,000 people in seven districts across Malawi over a period of four years, so that they are better able to prepare for and respond to disasters”.