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.…

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…

‘Water for all is health for all’

In Mndewere Village in Salima, all footpaths lead one way—to a new borehole Mseka Nyongani, 35, terms “a well of life” in a cholera-prone rural setting. On June 6, 2018, the mother of three suffered the disease, which left her bedridden at Khombedza Health Centre for four days. Giving flashbacks of the outbreak, which changed…

Why does 84-year-old Latiyo smile broadly?

Only 10 percent of the Malawi population has access to clean water. In this series our features editor JAMES CHAVULA looks at how communities are coping in the absence of safe drinking water and new measures that are being taken to avert cholera outbreaks: At 84, Mtaonakutha Latiyo had never tasted safe water and she…

Population vs your health

If you live in Malawi, did you know that government has only set aside K6 376 a year for your health needs? The National Statistical Office (NSO) released preliminary results of the 2018 Population and Housing Census yesterday which show there were about 17 563 749 people in the county when it was conducted in…

A good man in a dry town

It is 10am in Balaka town and women are scrambling to fill their buckets at a public tap sticking out of a brick fence. “Madzi ndi Moyo,” reads the writing on the wall. Yes, water is life. The women queuing for water have grown up hearing this slogan, but water has become scarce since Mpira…

‘I’m no celebrity, help me’

When Austin Luciano heard that government was going to shell K20 million to airlift famous comedian Eric Mabedi to India for a kidney transplant, he was excited. The swift response to the actor’s SOS sent a message to the 24-year-old kidney failure patient that the State realises its duty to ensure every person in need…

Dry valley turns to sunlight

In Kasisi, communities hit hard by chronic water-related disasters face untold uncertainties amid forecasts of floods on the southern tip of the country. The rural Malawians in the Shire Valley want out of hunger and poverty.  Many families rely on rainfall to water their crop fields, but it has become unpredictable and they scarcely reap…

Phwezi Girls’ K2m regret

A breakdown in a biogas plant at Phwezi Girls Secondary School has exposed huge savings learning institutions can make by churning out cooking energy from student’s faeces and food waste. Head teacher Zondiwe Nkhata fondly remembers the gas-making plant that would be saving almost K1.95 million a term if it were still functioning. Most boarding schools…

Malawi for speedy  climate change financing

As political divisions loom large at the global climate talks in Poland, Malawi has echoed least developed countries’ stance that there is no time to waste in the ending negotiations to reduce global warming and increase finance for tackling climate change. On Wednesday, Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining chief director Bright Kumwembe presented…