Malawi Food Crisis: Jenipher’s story

“I may lose one of these orphans to hunger.”

Jenipher Nkotima, 24, from Nkanda village in Malawi’s Mulanje district, has no food to eat following the worst drought to hit Southern Africa in 35 years.

Jenipher is 24 years old and she looks after her three nephews whose mother died seven years ago.

Jenipher told Oxfam that she used to be able to grow enough maize to feed her family but that the recent drought, exacerbated by climate change, means there hasn’t been enough food to go round.

“Last year the harvest was very low. I got just four bags of maize and we used that up in three months. I also had pigeon peas which I sold to buy maize but that is also finished now. So now, I have no food.”

Jenipher is hopeful that the situation will improve and that she will be able to grow enough crops to feed her family at the next harvest. But if that is to happen, she urgently needs fertilizers and seeds so that she can prepare her land in time.

“This year it seems that the rains will come early. If that happens then we could have enough harvest. But this can only be achieved if we can be provided with farm inputs like fertilizer and seeds.”

For Jenipher, the consequences of not getting the help that she needs in time could not be more serious.

“It would be disastrous if no help comes to improve my situation. I may lose one of the orphans due to lack of food. If there is no help, it means I will not grow any crops because I cannot grow anything without seeds and fertilizers. I take care of all these orphans. I provide for their upkeep and I feed them as well.”

Jennifer is determined that in the future, she and her family will not have to rely on help from organizations like Oxfam in order to survive – but right now she needs our help.

“Please, please, I am desperately in need of urgent assistance in terms of seeds and fertilizer. I know that there are so many other people in need of help. But I am pleading with you so that we get the farm inputs and we can plant in time. We do not want to always have to rely on food aid. But surely, if we are assisted in good time, we can become self-reliant and harvest enough food.”


Jenipher Nkotima cares for her three orphaned nephews. Photo credit: Eldson Chagara

You can watch our short film of Jenipher’s story here:

The devastating drought in Malawi has left 6.5 million people (40% of the population) facing severe food insecurity- we must take urgent action now to prevent hunger and disease.

Oxfam is providing emergency food support, life-saving water and assistance to help farmers recover their livelihoods.

Donate before the end of 2016 and the Scottish Government will match every pound raised* by Oxfam towards our life-saving humanitarian response to the crisis in Malawi.