Coping with drought: Abiti’s story

Abiti Anesi (65) stands in her millet field in the Chikwawa district of Malawi’s Southern Region. Not enough rain fell during the last rainy season and her crop failed. “This millet never reached maturity and we got nothing,” she says (Photo: Victor Lacken / IFRC).
Abiti and her husband Phargo (74) stand outside their home in the village of Diloni in Malawi’s Chikwawa district. Their crops failed due to the drought and they are dependant on food distributions from the Red Cross. However, since they were assessed for food aid, their family situation has changed and now the food they receive lasts for only fifteen days instead of a month. When the food runs out, all they have to eat are dry gwalangwa fruits and masau berries (Photo: Victor Lacken / IFRC).
Abiti eating a dried gwalangwa fruit. When the fruit is fresh it has juice inside, but when it’s dry it is hard and tasteless and difficult to eat. “We only eat them to satisfy the hunger, but they give us stomach pains,” she says (Photo: Victor Lacken / IFRC).
Phargo sits in his village of Diloni, in Malawi’s Chikwawa district. The village has been badly affected by the drought and his crops have failed. “I am too old to keep farming,” he says, “but we have no other income. It’s very difficult here” (Photo: Victor Lacken / IFRC).
Abiti and her daughter Esita (46) fetch water from an open well under a dried river bed in their district. “We have two sources of water,” says Abiti. “The water from the open well is sweet but not clean. The water from the bore hole is salty” (Photo: Victor Lacken / IFRC).
Abiti and her daughter Esita carry the water they have collected back to their village. “The water is not very clean but we drink it anyway. Sometimes we get a bit sick with diarrhoea. When the health officials come, they give us chlorine tablets to put in the water, but not very often” (Photo: Victor Lacken / IFRC).
Abiti and her daughters and grandson share a meal of nsima, beans and leaves in their village. “We eat twice a day, in the afternoon and the evening. We don’t eat in the morning. The Red Cross gives us food for a month but it only lasts for fifteen days because my daughter returned from a refugee camp in Mozambique with her children and now we have more mouths to feed” (Photo: Victor Lacken / IFRC).
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