Tropical Cyclone Freddy Recovery project brings needed supplies to co-op members 

One hundred sixty farmers (110 women and 50 men) from 12 co-operatives who were affected by Tropical Cyclone Freddy received support from the Co-operative Development Foundation of Canada (CDF Canada), the Manitoba Council for International Cooperation (MCIC), and the Malawi Federation of Co-operatives (MAFECO). 

Each co-operative member received a 50Kg bag of fertilizer, 10Kg of maize seeds and four packets of assorted vegetables. These materials supported farmers who lost their crops.  

The $26,718CAD (approximately 33,000,000 Malawi Kwacha) Tropical Cyclone Freddy Recovery project supported co-operative members from the Mulanje, Zomba and Machinga Districts. In March 2023, the president of Malawi declared a state of disaster following Tropical Cyclone Freddy. The Cyclone affected several countries, such as Madagascar, Mozambique, Malawi, and Zambia. The country, mostly the southern part, received heavy rainfall. Millions of people were displaced, and thousands were reported dead from lands slides, floods and collapsed buildings. Tropical Cyclone Freddy lashed most of the districts bringing strong winds and heavy rains. In a matter of hours significant floods and mudslides washed out communities.  

Distribution of support at the Mikoko Co-operative. From left to right, John Mulangeni, MAFECO Executive Director, Mr. Mateauma, Machinga District Commissioner, and one of the beneficiaries from the Mikoko Co-operative, and Rose Msosa, VOICE Regional Coordinator.

Four hundred twenty-seven co-operative members working with the VOICE for Women and Girls’ Program were impacted. Supported by government officers from the respective districts, co-operative members were briefed on the project and its intended outcome.  They identified the most appropriate beneficiaries based on selection criteria that prioritized women farmers, elderly, people living with disabilities or chronic illnesses.  

“I would like to thank CDF Canada for the timely assistance given. Some of the farmers had already planted their maize because in Mulanje rains came earlier than in most parts of the country, but due to onset dry spells that we have been experiencing, they were forced to uproot their crops. This package will be used to replant,” said Collins Kazembe, the Chair for Nalipiri Tea Co-operative.

Stella Chilikumbuyo, a co-operative member from Nalipiri, showing her crops.

During a launch ceremony for the recovery project, held at Mbanira Trading Center in Machinga District, 28 cyclone victims from the Mikoko Rice Producers and Marketing received their support. 

“When the cyclone affected the country, I was based in Karonga (Northern Region), and I was only following it through social media and news platforms. Now that I am here, I can notice the extent of damage it left on the people,” said Mr. Mateauma, the District Commissioner for Machinga District Council. “You might think it’s little, but you have assisted us in reducing the burden we had in providing support to these communities.”  

The project has had a positive impact on the co-operative members. It eased the pressure of looking for resources as the beneficiaries selected were the most affected with little chance of recovering from the storm as they were supported with high-quality seed and fertilizer.  

“The seed had high germination rate, almost every seed that was sown germinated,” said Stella Chilikumbuyo, a member of Nalipiri Tea Producers Co-operative.  

Despite adverse weather conditions faced during the harvest season, the support has helped farmers. In addition, this initiative as increased co-operative participation as members are now feeling a sense of belonging and they are paying back some of their loans they had with their co-operative.  

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