Meet Charles



from malawi

Charles from Malawi
Meet Charles from Malawi
Photo: Abbie Trayler-Smith / Oxfam
Farmers in Malawi rely on rainfall for their crops, but when the rains don’t come that can lead to widespread hunger. Charles Kenani knows all about the changing rainfall patterns. As a small farmer in the village of Mnembo, the effects of climate change were making it impossible for him to grow enough food to feed his family. That’s when you stepped in. With your support, we worked with the community to develop an irrigation scheme, which helps to provide water even in times of drought. The results have changed the fortunes of Charles and his family. “We started this irrigation scheme because we were facing problems with the climate,” he said. “We were finding it hard to grow enough food all year round. It's impossible to harvest enough for the whole year when you have to rely on the rain.

“Now we have access to water during the dry months we are able to plant several crops in a year – wheat, rice and tomatoes. We no longer see the problems other people face. Because of our irrigation system we are protected.” The irrigation system has also allowed the people of Mnembo to grow crops which would previously not have survived extended dry periods. The most profitable of these new crops are tomatoes, which are sold in bulk to make tomato ketchup. Not only has the irrigation system helped to feed Charles’ family, it has also generated enough income for him to build a bigger house. “Because of the money we made from the tomatoes we have been able to build a new brick house,” he said. “It’s big – 10 metres by 5 metres. We have a large kitchen where we all eat together and two separate bedrooms.” The Mnembo irrigation scheme has helped to improve the lives of 400 families by transforming their traditional small low-yield crops into year-round, high volume harvests that provide continuous food and a source of income. Thanks to your support, the community are now totally self sustainable. 
 All photographs by Abbie Trayler-Smith/Oxfam.