By Beforce Nyirenda.
Malawi is one of the smallest countries found in the Central Africa. Population is about 14.5 million of which 70% is living in rural areas. Most of the families earn their living through small scale farming. The crops grown are like Cassava, Millet, Maize, Sweet potatoes, rice, tea, bananas, tobacco and other small crops.
These families 65% are practicing polygamy type of marriage and this also increases hard life living. A man can have three wives which may result to a minimum of twelve children per family. Sending children to school also becomes very hard. Most of the children can go as far as primary school as secondary school needs fees. As a result, young girls are forced to marriage for search of a better living. But this doesn’t solve the problem incase it increases the problem because most of these marriages are temporary. Young girls are also forced to marry to older men. This practice also contributes to the spread of HIV virus as most of these men are already married. (See picture)
Malnutrition is one of the common diseases to children and typhoid to adults. These families lack all groups of food to feed the family, as a result children suffer from kwashiorkor and other malnutrition diseases. Sanitation is another problem that affects these families. This problem results to other waterborne diseases like typhoid, cholera etc. Most of the children die due to lack of treatment as hospitals are far apart and transport is another challenge. Only small clinic can be found in rural areas but cannot afford to handle serious cases.
Child spacing also affects the growth of children because a mother doesn’t have enough time to fully take care of the children. Average child spacing is now at 1.8 years between birth dates and this period is very short comparing to ministry of health recommendations. Fathers start running a way from their responsibilities and starts going out with other women. Women start depending on their own by brewing local beer (masese) and the little money they get helps them to find salt, soap and other small house holds. Other women go as far as prostitution just to make the life easier for themselves and the children.
The common food is Nsima. It is prepared from Cassava or Maize flour. This flour is made locally using wooden piston and wooden motor. After preparing the flour, you cook it using boiled water, and then eat with relish like meat, beans, vegetables etc. Rice is the second type of food that most of the families usually take.
Most of the houses are made from mud, poles, ropes and thatched roof. House floor is applied with wet soil and compacted. After every 1 week, the floor is being applied by new wet soil.
Livestock and Farming
Few families have a chance of keeping livestock like pigs, goats, chickens and just few families have cattle. Families are being helped like paying school fees, buying clothes and other major house holds after selling the livestock. Other families fully depend on these livestock to earn their living.
Malawi is blessed with livers, lakes and valleys this helps farmers to grow maize three times per year. But the most challenge is equipments for irrigation. Very few families can afford to buy these equipments because of expensiveness. Small scale farmers also keep fish in small ponds for business and for food. Without business you can’t survive in Malawi as salaries for civil servants is small comparing to the minimum living standard rate.