A desperate and largely unknown humanitarian crisis is deteriorating in the Lake Chad Basin region of West Africa, forcing millions of people to flee their homes and leaving millions more in need of humanitarian assistance. Oxfam is providing life-saving support but help is urgently needed to prevent the crisis turning into a catastrophe.
Malawi is a country of small-scale producers farming tiny plots of land. Traditionally, they grow maize and other crops using rainwater. But as climate change intensifies, rains in Malawi are becoming erratic and less predictable.
Malawi has abundant freshwater resources. Thirteen perennial rivers and three lakes cover almost 20 per cent of the area of Malawi. Despite this, only a small proportion of agricultural land is irrigated.
Improving smallholder agriculture is a major focus of Oxfam’s program in Malawi. This case study describes how Oxfam has supported the development of community-based irrigation systems in support of greater productivity and food security. Through year-round access to water, farmers have been supported to intensify cropping, implement better soil management techniques, and diversify their production to include tomatoes for sale to a local canning factory. The resulting income benefits have enabled participants to make investments in their homes and businesses, and supported access to education and healthcare.