Stories written by Charles Mpaka

MALAWI: Water Promises Light for Isolated Community

In just a few weeks, seven villages that had expected to remain "in the dark forever" will finally have electricity, courtesy of a small hydroelectric power plant on Lichenya River, one of the major rivers on the eastern slopes of Mulanje Mountain in southern Malawi.

Women return from fetching water after the supply in their homes was cut off during the water rationing.  Credit: Charles Mpaka/IPS

MALAWI: Hospitals Struggle Amid Water Shortage

Two battered plastic chairs bar entry to the toilets at the Bangwe Township Clinic in Blantyre. The toilets are not working because there is no running water – yet again. And if patients want to use the facilities they will have to run to the next- door primary school, which has pit latrines.

Wilson Sitima quit his banking job so he and his wife, Diana, could concentrate on farming.  Credit: Charles Mpaka

MALAWI: Water Drives Integrated Agriculture on Small Farm

When the original owners of a 3.5 hectare piece of land put it up for sale because it was too waterlogged to farm on, Diana Sitima and her husband, Wilson, jumped to buy it.

Persistent fuel shortages ignited violent nationwide public protests in Malawi as protestors called for President Bingu wa Mutharika

MALAWI: Fuel Shortages Ignite Violent Nationwide Protests

In light of the recent spate of protests in Malawi, government should rethink its policy to devalue the local currency, economists say.

Community members are replacing the old pipes of the gravity-fed water scheme with new and larger ones.  Credit: Charles Mpaka/IPS

MALAWI: Women Get Dirty to Stop Water Scarcity

Ethel James cannot wait for the gravity-fed water scheme in her area to be fixed so that she and the other women in her village will no longer have to wake up before dawn everyday to queue for water.

MALAWI: Village Hands Join to Save Forest for Juice

Seventy kilometres outside Malawi's commercial capital, Blantyre, a profitable cooperative enterprise is providing villagers jobs and preserving forests.

The antiretrovirals government seeks to change. Credit: Charles Mpaka

MALAWI: Fears of Sustainability of New ART Regime

As government prepares to roll out the expensive new antiretroviral treatment regime recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO) this month, there are fears about the programme’s sustainability after two recent proposals for funding were rejected by the Global Fund.

MALAWI: Rural Areas Still Struggle to Access Medicines

In the shade of a leafy mango tree at the rural Chipho Health Centre in Thyolo, southern Malawi, Melifa Faison sits looking frequently down the road hoping to see an ambulance. Lying beside her is her 6-year-old daughter, weak with malaria.

People Collecting Water at One of Kiosks Credit: Charles Mpaka

WATER: Miracle Man Eases Village’s Water Woes

Hermes Chimombo, a welder in his 50s, is a revered man in the impoverished Naotcha Township. Armed with rudimentary tools and a passion to ease people’s suffering, he has tapped a spring in the mountain above the slum to provide water for its 25,000 residents.

MALAWI: Village Chief Leads Fight For Maternal Health

In Ntcheu, a rural district in central Malawi, villagers have taken the fight against the country's high maternal mortality rate into their own hands. They have almost eradicated maternal deaths in the area by urging pregnant women to give birth in hospitals, under medical supervision.

Water kiosk. Credit:  Charles Mpaka/IPS

MALAWI: Local Management the Tonic for Water Woes

Hop over a seep of filthy sludge behind a bathroom screened with ragged sacks, turn past the toilet with battered cardboard walls, crab between mud-brick shanties roofed with rusty metal... There: emerge into a small, neat yard where a dozen women and girls are filling plastic buckets from five water taps sticking out of concrete wall.

MALAWI: A Cellphone, a Bicycle and Sound Agricultural Advice

It is 11 am and Mary Jusa seems unconcerned by the sun beating hard on her back. Humming a traditional tune, she carries on uprooting weeds in her maize field between two water canals.

SOUTHERN AFRICA: Removing Barriers to Trade

Cecilia Gondwe waits in the shade of a tree at the Mwanza Border Post between Malawi and Mozambique. Somewhere inside, a clearing agent is completing elaborate paperwork on her behalf.

The new dictionary translates Chichewa to English and English to Chichewa and has 35,000 entries.  Credit: Charles Mpaka/IPS

EDUCATION-MALAWI: Local Language Dictionary Released

The thickest book on secondary school teacher Hellen Ndalama’s desk is her indigenous language dictionary. It is also her most-used book.

MALAWI: Extra Money Allocated for Drought Relief

Maize farmer Anita Yunus has lived near the Mulanje Mountain in southern Malawi for over 30 years. And she does not remember there ever being a drought in the area.

Malawi is seeking to shield progress in food security against drought by establishing extensive irrigation projects. Credit:  Ngolowindo Horticultural Cooperative Society/IPS

MALAWI: Green Belt Initiative Taking Shape

Let the rains fail, even for several successive seasons, and Malawi should still be able to produce enough to feed itself.

RIGHTS-MALAWI: Blame Game While Children Suffer

Every morning 12-year-old Thomson Genti and his seven-year-old brother, Chifundo, emerge dirty and wretched from the squalor of their hideout behind the crowded shops in the commercial town of Limbe. It is the start of a day of begging, beatings from the older street boys and insults from passers-by.

Vendors at the Lizulu market say they do not know how government spends its money but they know it certainly will not reach them. Credit: Charles Mpaka/IPS

AFRICA: Lost in the Tracking of Budgets

As Susan Muonanji and other vendors scrambled around one of the many transport busses to sell cabbages and tomatoes at a market along one of Malawi’s key roads, a national budget session had just started in parliament some 100 kilometres away in the capital city, Lilongwe.

Margaret Roka Mauwa, the deputy Minister of Agriculture in Malawi, says she believes in working with the media. Credit: Charles Mpaka/IPS

AFRICA: Counting on Media for Good Governance

While campaigning in the last election, Margaret Roka Mauwa, Member of the Malawian Parliament, did not promise her voters that when she won she would buy them coffins.

A Malawian sex worker who says she was forced by police to undergo an HIV test. Credit: Charles Mpaka

RIGHTS: Police Force HIV Tests for Sex Workers

It was, Malawian police say, a routine sweep for criminals at one of the country’s busiest border posts. They were looking for criminals.

Montfort Salijeni and his unsold cotton. Credit: Charles Mpaka

MALAWI: Surplus Crop, But We Are Starving – Farmers

In a country where maize crop surplus fills the national storehouses to capacity, farmers Ida and Montfort Salijeni and their four children have turned to wild tubers for food.