Mkango rare earth mine to open in 2024

  Mkango Resources Limited, a mining firm exploring rare earths at Songwe Hills in Phalombe, has unveiled plans to start extracting the minerals by 2024. The Australian Stock Exchange (ASX)-listed mining firm, has been exploring the prospects of extracting the minerals used in making mobile phones and computer accessories since 2010, forcing hillside communities to…

Averting Lake Chilwa’s new low

Malawi’s Man and Biosphere (MAB) committee oversees conservation efforts in the hugely deforested Mulanje Mountain and Lake Chilwa, a wetland which run dry last year. In this interview, our Staff Writer JAMES CHAVULA asks Unesco Commission acting deputy executive secretary David Mulera on strides to strengthen the committee’s efforts and save the inland lake from…

United for girls and women

Sexual attacks and gender-based against women and girls in Malawi put them at risk of HIV infection. At worst, some cases involve adolescents the size of a girl disguised as Misozi in compliance with child protection laws. In Malunda Village, a banana-growing locality at the heart of Traditional Authority Njema in Mulanje, tongues are still…

Malaria vaccine on trial

It’s World Malaria Day. Our Staff Writer JAMES CHAVULA unpacks malaria vaccines on trial in 11 districts. It is a warm evening and you are having a mealtime chat with your family. All looks pleasant as you unwind from a busy day, probably listening to soothing music or news. Suddenly, there is a piercing sound…

Delivering hope in crowded camps

Miriam Demba is expecting her third baby at Mileme Camp in Phalombe. She is among 125 000 Malawians displaced by devastating floods in 14 districts. “Last month, it rained ceaselessly for two days. On March 8, we heard screams of people escaping rising water in the night. We joined in. By sunrise, Nankhalamba Village was…

Coordinate floods response

The United Nations (UN) resident coordinator Maria Jose Torres Macho has asked organisations to leave no one behind in the emergency response to devastating effects of heavy rains that displaced 125 000 people three weeks ago. She was responding to concerns of uneven distribution of relief items as thousands of flood survivors in some remote…

When strangers become family

When the waters came in the dead of the night, 52-year-old grandmother Esnath Makumbi hardly had time to react. She and her grandchildren were awakened by fellow villagers running away from the rising waters. “We heard people shouting ‘water! water! water!’. But before we could do anything, the water was already making its way up…

Rising from tragedy

Sweltering sunshine had just returned to the Shire Valley when we met Grace Bragiyo in her maize field where floods flashed past two weeks earlier. The 66-year old, who was replanting, is among 125 000 people displaced by devastating floods that hit 923 000 people in Malawi, killing 56 and injuring about 580. Her field,…

Aid sidesteps rural camps

Heavy rains that have displaced 125 000 people in southern Malawi have left the Shire Valley inundated by vehicles ferrying food, blankets, mosquito nets and other relief items to evacuation centres. Some locals at Chikwawa Boma liken the rush to some motor racing featuring the four-wheel-drives made for rough roads. It is easy to tell…

Electronic village registers on trial

Harold Keliyasi is neither famous nor powerful, but he counts. On February 13, the baby, just a month-old, joined nearly 750 people in an electronic village register (EVR) group village head Chazumba has been compiling in Traditional Authority (T/A) Mtema, northwest of the capital, Lilongwe. “By equipping community leaders to register all births and deaths…

In father’s name

Tattoos are almost everything to people with heartfelt emotional connections. And ‘Du Jr’, reads one on Doreen Chisiza’s left biceps. To the first born of Du Chisiza Jnr, the inking is an indelible tribute to her father, the country’s most revered playwright, actor and director, who died on February 24 1999. “When I left the…

Disease tests made quicker

It is 3.30pm when we arrive at Kamuzu Central Hospital in Lilongwe and the end of Chawanangwa Khuwi’s day at work in the facility’s busy laboratory has just begun. However, samples of blood, other fluids and body tissue from congested wards, where patients are eagerly waiting to know the conditions haunting them, keep trickling in.…

Theatre bares sanitation gaps

It is sunny in Mpemba on the south western margins of Blantyre City. Some 10 young people are dancing in the sun, circling a giant drum as they warm up for a drama show calling for collective efforts to kick out cholera. Their song is clear: You can claim to be using a clean toilet,…

In August, Malawi adopted a new energy policy in line with sustainable development goals to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all by 2030. In this interview with our staff writer JAMES CHAVULA, Community Energy Malawi executive director Edgar Bayani unpacks the new blueprint. What is your take on the new…

Making land laws work

Oliva Lale’s face said it all. The mother of four smiled broadly as she became one of the first Malawians to register customary land. Now in her early 40s, she gladly paced on the boundary of her maize field in Kathumba Village close to Mpoto Lagoon in Phalombe as surveyors took down notes. “I inherited…

Survivor’s war on cervical cancer

Falesi Wajomba, sounded heartbroken when asked about her long walks to ensure no woman dies of the common condition. At 43, the 48-year-old woman, living at Dyeratu in Chikwawa, was diagnosed with the disease that kills at least four Malawian women every day. For five years, she has been going door-todoor, encouraging women to go…

Energy gaps fuel unhealthy climate

Every Wednesday, Ethel Balani and her fellow volunteers in Chilembwe Village, Thyolo, walk door-to-door to encourage people with persistent coughs to get screened for tuberculosis (TB). However, the long walks to improve TB testing expose a silent killer that hides in windowless kitchens prevalent across the hills where many cook using sticks from tea plantations.…

Another side of Bangwe clinic

It is around 3pm when we arrive at Bangwe Health Centre in Blantyre, where four suspected cholera cases recently spent days in an isolation tent before tests proved negative. Along a narrow tarmac road splitting the populous township, piling filth spills into drains and streams. Nearby, some residents sell ready-to-eat food and water repackaged in…

Overwhelming struggle with cholera

The power of partnerships was almost everything when overburdened health centres in Lilongwe were caught unawares by a seemingly relentless cholera outbreak, our Staff Writer JAMES CHAVULA writes. When a frail patient from Mtsiriza, a densely clustered slum in Lilongwe, arrived at Kamuzu Central Hospital, health workers knew that the capital city was under siege.…

Excluded cholera hotspot in the capital

As Malawi stares at another cholera outbreak, personified by a Lilongwe-based driver who died in a lodge in Blantyre this month, our Staff Writer JAMES CHAVULA details how widespread use of contaminated wells in the capital city exposes perilous neglect and inequalities that fuel the preventable public health crisis. It was a wet November morning…