Only if we prevent hunger and malnutrition in time we can allow people to live a healthy and dignified life.

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Children in the project area eat much more nutritionally than those who with just eat the corn porridge nsima. (c) GIZ

If you are flying over Malawi by plane, your view is drawn to a barren and treeless landscape. Instead of green landscapes, arid fields extend to the horizon, the victims of droughts in recent years and the overcultivation of corn.


Food in Malawi is based almost exclusively on a porridge called nsima, which is made by stirring together cornmeal and water. Especially in the period between December and March, i.e. before the next corn harvest, the people eat nsima almost exclusively. Foods containing vitamins and other vital nutrients are no longer available at that time.


Nsima is valued highly by the Malawian population. Many people still remember the famine of the 1980s, when the country's agricultural sector collapsed due to misguided agricultural reforms and severe droughts. Many people survived through international food aid in the form of corn.


Malnutrition, deforestation and high population growth have brought the country back into a threatening situation today. The problems are exacerbated by the effects of climate change: the rainy seasons are getting shorter and harvests are shrinking. Sometimes, crops fail altogether.


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From the school garden, these children also get mangos and papaya to eat. (c) GIZ

Another problem is the authoritarian approach taken by government authorities. Typically, the villagers are not asked for their opinion when the district administration seeks to resolve a problem. For this reason, GIZ development workers are looking for ways to increase participation and bring the subject of nutrition onto the agenda. Only then this issue can take root in the villages.


"If you do not eat nsima you will not grow", says the small farmer Fanny Nanjiwa, recalling the words her mother once said to her as she stirred a sweet potato-bean stew. She shakes her head when she thinks about the unbalanced diet which she was fed by her mother. She herself tries to ensure that her children receive a balanced diet. Fanny also encourages them to pick fruit from the many mango and papaya trees which have been planted by the village community. 


Children who know how good mangoes and papayas taste, will surely strive for a greener Malawi, where multiple crops are grown, rather than just corn.    

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Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ)

GIZ is a globally active provider of international cooperation for sustainable development. It has more than 50 years of experience in a wide range of fields.

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