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National disaster in Malawi and Zimbabwe

National disaster in Malawi and Zimbabwe

Ken McCarthy is the GOAL Regional Director for Sub Saharan Africa and has worked with GOAL for over 11 years. With a wealth of experience Ken tells us about the worsening effects climate change is having on his region.

Both countries have declared a national disaster although you may not be aware of that with all the other disasters happening in the world at the moment.

My region covers both Malawi and Zimbabwe both of which are undergoing one of the worst droughts in living memory due to the effects of El Nino which is exacerbated by climate change. This has resulted in massive crop losses which invariably affects the poorest and most marginalised. In Malawi the forecast for people in need of food aid for the upcoming hunger season (period between planting and harvesting) is 6.5 million (approximately 40% of the population). In Zimbabwe that figure is 2.5 million. Both countries have declared a national disaster although you may not be aware of that with all the other disasters happening in the world at the moment.

GOAL’s response is twofold.

Firstly, to support the people in their time of crisis with cash transfers which will enable them to purchase food and other essential supplies to get them through this vulnerable period in their lives and distributions of seeds which will enable them to replant so they won’t face a similar crisis next year.

Secondly, we support these communities with more long term programmes which will enable them to better resist these shocks in their lives.

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"GOAL links the farmers with agricultural companies who pay a fair price for the produce and GOAL provides the farmers with accurate price information via mobile phones so they are better informed."

In Malawi, farmers are exploited by middle men who purchase the farmers agricultural produce at the farm gate, usually at prices far below the market price as the farmers don’t have access to market information. GOAL links the farmers with agricultural companies who pay a fair price for the produce and GOAL provides the farmers with accurate price information via mobile phones so they are better informed. Last year, 5,000 farmers received an 80% increase in the price they received for their harvest. This has a meaningful benefit to their lives which moves them out of them most vulnerable bracket and hence better able to resist droughts and other shocks.

In Zimbabwe, GOAL supports livestock farmers. In remote areas, the quality of the livestock is poor due to in breeding and lack of adequate knowledge on how best to care for their animals. GOAL trains farmers in the community on best practice; how to produce and store fodder and what disease to look out for along with training para-vets in the community.

Also, GOAL have introduced quality breeding stock (better quality bulls and rams) into the communities whereby the local farmers can breed their animals with the improved stock. This has resulted in an average of a 45% increase in birth weight of livestock and more livestock maturing to market weight. In addition, we have linked farmers to commercial companies which again pay a fair price for the livestock at market time. As a result farmers have an increase in their incomes which again has a long term benefit in their lives.

All these programmes have a meaningful, long term, sustainable impact on the communities in which GOAL works.

GOAL will continue to offer support to as many farmers as possible, however, this is depended on your support so please continue to support us as best you can.


Ken McCarthy
Regional Director, Sub Saharan Africa

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