DREAMING OF BETTER DAYS: THE STORY OF WYSON BWANALI

“I lost my 3 goats, bags of maize and 2.5 acres of crop land but I wouldn’t really care save the spared life”. This was Mr Wyson Bwanali lamenting over the devastating effects of floods which destroyed fields and homes, washed away animals and crops, and threatened the food security situation in the area. The father of three, underscored three reasons that prompted him to submit a proposal to United Nations Development Programs` Malawi Resilience Innovation Lab (MRIL); when the flood struck, hunger follows. People in our area solely attain their livelihood from agriculture be it livestock and/or rain-fed crop farming. To us, the nightmare caused by the water is harder to endure than the pain from the surgery because if my 3 goats were not taken away, I could have sold one or two to replace the lost properties.

The passionate Bwanali also cited that floods wrought widespread water related diseases such as cholera due to high uncleanliness conditions and also necessitated the transmission of Sexual Transmitted Infections including HIV/AIDS. For instance, about 780 flood affected farming families in 1997 and 890 farming families displaced by floods in 2012 took refuge at Chikowa Primary School which had only 4 blocks. Living conditions were not the best as the School had inadequate toilet facilities, unhygeining water nurturing the cholera outbreak. The raging floods wreaked havoc compromising children`s right to education  since school blocks were turned into camps for those fleeing the rising waters. It is on record that the torrential rains inundated the area from end of December 2012 and subsided on 11th April, 2013. Consequently, all the 70 Primary School Leaving Certificate of Examination (PLSCE) candidates did not perform well further stimulating Mr Bwanali to write the proposal.

Mr Wyson Bwanali felt the urgency of the moment to contribute towards the mitigation of the devastating wrath of floods in Group Village Headman Kandulu. He feels that river bank management initiatives such as maintaining vegetative cover along the river bank by planting elephant grasses, maintaining and planting trees as well as community sensitization from upstream the river to the downstream are key to mitigating flooding in the area. Interestingly, the future looks bright to Mr Bwanali should the proposed strategies be implemented in the MRIL project. And he is optimistic enough that the odds of being hit again by a terrestrial flood are lower for Kandulu GVH which have been under water siege before.

“Seeing the next generation thriving in this area without being afraid of dislocation will complete my vision for the area in which I am part of” said Bwanali. I had a strong willingness to write a proposal to participate in ending the maladies emanating from floods in the area. To me it is a dream coming true that my proposal was successful. Nevertheless, I attribute it all to the love and patience I have for the area.

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