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Birds, Wildlife and Gardening

‘Everything is changing’: the struggle for food as Malawi’s Lake Chilwa shrinks

<p>The livelihoods of 1.5 million people are at risk as the lake’s occasional dry spells occur ever more frequently<br><br>• All photographs by Dennis Lupenga/WaterAid</p><p>There was a time when the vast Lake Chilwa almost disappeared. In 2012 it had been extremely hot in southern Malawi, with little rain to fill the rivers that ran into the lake.</p><p>“Many fishermen were forced to scramble for land near the lake banks, while others had to migrate to the city,” says Alfred Samuel. “We could barely feed our children because the lake could not provide enough fish, or water for rice growing.”</p><p>An aerial view of the bed of Lake Chilwa, now covered in grass, last October</p><p>Clockwise from top left: White Lagwani, 60, who fishes and makes traditional dugout canoes, at work on Lake Chilwa’s Chisi Island; canoes moored at Kuchenga, Chisi Island; fishing on Lake Chilwa; Samson Maliko’s meagre catch. ‘Climate change has affected us greatly,’ he says</p><p>If we are struggling to feed our children because of the current economic conditions, I don’t know what the future holds</p><p>Prof Chiotha taking samples from the dry bed of Lake Chilwa, off Chisi Island, in 2018</p><p> <span>Related: </span><a href="https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2021/apr/19/nine-and-looking-after-the-family-the-children-working-to-survive-in-malawi">Nine and looking after the family: the children working to survive in Malawi</a> </p><p>Clockwise from top left, Belita Fenek cooks rice porridge at Ntila market, on the northern shores of Lake Chilwa; dried fish on sale at the market; traders and customers make their way to the market across the bed of Lake Chilwa during the rainy season; Fenek on her way back from the market. She leaves home at 3am and cycles for three hours to sell her rice porridge but she says: ‘There have been fewer customers year after year’</p><p>Livestock graze by abandoned canoes on the dry bed of Lake Chilwa last October</p><p>Ferrying people across the northern end of Lake Chilwa in March this year. Despite it being the rainy season, water levels remain low</p><p>Ntila market on Lake Chilwa during the rainy season in March this year, when water levels should be much higher</p> <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2021/aug/30/everything-is-changing-struggle-for-food-as-malawis-lake-chilwa-shrinks">Continue reading...</a>

The livelihoods of 1.5 million people are at risk as the lake’s occasional dry spells occur ever more frequently

• All photographs by Dennis Lupenga/WaterAid

There was a time when the vast Lake Chilwa almost disappeared. In 2012 it had been extremely hot in southern Malawi, with little rain to fill the rivers that ran into the lake.

“Many fishermen were forced to scramble for land near the lake banks, while others had to migrate to the city,” says Alfred Samuel. “We could barely feed our children because the lake could not provide enough fish, or water for rice growing.”

An aerial view of the bed of Lake Chilwa, now covered in grass, last October

Clockwise from top left: White Lagwani, 60, who fishes and makes traditional dugout canoes, at work on Lake Chilwa’s Chisi Island; canoes moored at Kuchenga, Chisi Island; fishing on Lake Chilwa; Samson Maliko’s meagre catch. ‘Climate change has affected us greatly,’ he says

If we are struggling to feed our children because of the current economic conditions, I don’t know what the future holds

Prof Chiotha taking samples from the dry bed of Lake Chilwa, off Chisi Island, in 2018

Related: Nine and looking after the family: the children working to survive in Malawi

Clockwise from top left, Belita Fenek cooks rice porridge at Ntila market, on the northern shores of Lake Chilwa; dried fish on sale at the market; traders and customers make their way to the market across the bed of Lake Chilwa during the rainy season; Fenek on her way back from the market. She leaves home at 3am and cycles for three hours to sell her rice porridge but she says: ‘There have been fewer customers year after year’

Livestock graze by abandoned canoes on the dry bed of Lake Chilwa last October

Ferrying people across the northern end of Lake Chilwa in March this year. Despite it being the rainy season, water levels remain low

Ntila market on Lake Chilwa during the rainy season in March this year, when water levels should be much higher

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