Today we spent a full day visiting Fombe village in the Chickhwawa district. We met with many of the families (all farmers) and learned a lot about how they are trying to adapt to the changing and uncertain rainfall. We heard story after story of farmers telling us that before the rains used to come in October now they come in December. Here’s a group of us in Fombe village today.
When the rains do come they come in downpours leading to significant flooding problems in the surrounding villages. Here’s an adaptation dam built to correct a deviated river flow that threatened to destroy several homes in the village.
This year was a good year for rain, but checking on actual official measurements that meant a 6 week rainy season for the year. In that span there were two significant days of rain and no rain after Feb. 17th. These farmers have already abandoned using corn crops for millet. Even that is only enough to last three to four months of the year. So this good year was still not nearly sufficient for survivial.
The next step for food is widespread adaptation of conservation agriculture which involves a specific planting method that keeps nutrients and moisture in the soil. Some farmers are using this new method with success, but there is a long way still to go.