Stories written by Charles Mpaka

Malawi Counts Success of Polio Vaccination Drive after Detecting First Case in 30 Years

One polio case is one too many, global health experts say. And when Malawi announced in February this year that it had detected a polio case in the country’s capital Lilongwe, the alarm was significant, and the response from both the government and global health partners was swift, if not frantic.

Cyclone Ana Floods Choke Malawi’s Water and Sanitation Goals

On the night of January 24, 2022, as Cyclone Ana-triggered rains incessantly rattled on the rusty roof of her house, amid intervals of gusty winds, a thud woke up Josephine Kumwanje from her sleep.

Clean Water, Decent Toilets, Hygiene Challenge for Southern African Community

The toilets in the maternity wing of Namatapa Health Centre in the populous Bangwe Township in Blantyre, Malawi’s commercial city, fell into disrepair a few years ago. So, pregnant women who come to deliver their babies and their guardians use two pit latrines.

Rising Suicides Shine Spotlight on Malawi’s Mental Health Burden

When a former deputy speaker of Parliament shot himself dead within the National Assembly buildings in Lilongwe in September 2021, it shook Malawi. It also turned attention to the mental health burden in the country.

High Global Fertiliser Prices Overshadow Malawi’s Farm Subsidy Programme

Ellena Joseph, a small-scale maize farmer in Chiradzulu District in Southern Malawi, finished preparing her field early in October.

Poverty, Official Complicity Hampers Human Trafficking Fight in Malawi

In August, police intercepted the trafficking of 31 people to Mozambique. The victims, all Malawians, included 17 children and 6 women. Their two traffickers, also Malawians, had coerced them from their rural village in Lilongwe district with a promise of jobs in estates in neighbouring Mozambique. But they were saved in large part thanks to their own community.

Youth Rural-Urban Migration Hurts Malawi’s Agriculture

As households in Chiradzulu District in Southern Malawi start preparing their farms for the next maize growing season, Frederick Yohane, 24, is a busy young man.

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.

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