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Deforestation in Malawi
Lilongwe
By Nathalie Bertrams
07 Dec 2017

For the past year, Malawi’s department of forestry has been cooperating with the army in a desperate bid to stem the illegal logging that is depleting the country’s forests at a rate of 2.8% per year. Surging demand for charcoal in Malawi’s cities is the prime driver of deforestation here: around 54% of urban women now use this “black gold” for cooking, according to the government.

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Bertrams_Malawi_01
Lilongwe
By Nathalie Bertrams
03 Feb 2017

Carrying a load of 150 kilos of charcoal on his bicycle, Handle Marino has been pedaling all through the night to reach Malawi's capital Lilongwe, where a wholesale buyer awaits the goods.

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TALPAPRIL2017-24
London
By Tom Price
20 Oct 2016

Loveness Gunda, 6.

Chagunda village.

Salima district, Malawi.

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TALPAPRIL2017-25
London
By Tom Price
20 Oct 2016

Vincent Manda, 10.

Chagunda village.

Salima district, Malawi.

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Malawi: Deadly Floods Displace Thousands
Chikwawa, Malawi
By Arjen van de Merwe
10 Jan 2015

Malawi, a landlocked country in Southern Africa, has seen devastating floods in the southern part of the country. In some areas, a month’s worth of rain came down in 24 hours at the beginning of the rainy season, leaving villages, roads, bridges and fields destroyed. The death toll is estimated to be anywhere between dozens and nearly two-hundred, while 14,000 households are known to be displaced (an estimated 70.000 people). However, some areas have yet to be reached, so these figures are expected to rise.

The government of Malawi has declared fifteen southern districts disaster zones and has appealed for international aid. To British government has already dedicated GBP 3.8 million to help rescue and rebuilding efforts, and many other governments are soon to follow.

The aid operation carried out by the Government of Malawi, the military and a range of international organisations, MSF and UNICEF having a prominent presence among them, is in full speed. The Malawian army is leading the evacuation of affected and vulnerable communities, using boats and helicopters, and improvised camps are being set up with tents and medical facilities. As always after flooding, prevention of waterborne diseases such as cholera is priority.

Bad weather continued to hinder the aid operations until Friday 16 January when the rain ceased. However, rising temperatures made for uncomfortable circumstances in the camps and outside.

The Malawian Police Force is setting up Victim Support Units and Child Protection units in the camps, while the international agencies such as UNICEF and UNFPA provide blankets, tents and food, and also first aid for rape cases and safe delivery kits. MSF is also participating, setting up and operating a mobile health clinic.

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Malawi Tobacco Farmers 13
Blantyre, Malawi
By Eldson Chagara
03 Feb 2014

Magaret Luka arranges her fresh tomatoes on her bench at a local market in Malawi’s commercial capital. Magaret says she used to grow tobacco when it was fetching more money. She decided to quit and start selling tomatoes. She is five years into the business and makes more than she could if she was still growing tobacco. Tobacco farming in Africa, and in particular in Malawi, is in crisis. It perpetuates poverty and it harms the environment.

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Malawi Tobacco Farmers 1
Blantyre, Malawi
By Eldson Chagara
03 Feb 2014

Ireen Kameta plucks the mature leaves at her tobacco field at Maleule, 42 kilometers northeast of Blantyre, on February 3, 2014. While tobacco has been Malawi’s major foreign exchange earner, many farmers are quitting the crop, opting for other profitable crops, such as soya, sunflower oil, soya, cassava and pigeon peas. Coupled with poor price on the market, tobacco is facing the anti-smoking lobby globally. There are campaigns internationally that are pushing Malawi to diversify their crops away from tobacco. Estimates indicate that more than 80 of Malawians are directly or indirectly employed by the tobacco industry.

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Malawi Tobacco Farmers 11
Blantyre, Malawi
By Eldson Chagara
03 Feb 2014

Chipiliro Phiri, 22, is a welder at a garage in Ndirande township in Blantyre. Chipiliro, who has been working with her family in tobacco farming, decided to move to the city after failing to raise enough money from the tobacco harvest last year. Many more farmers are trying some other crops outside of tobacco due to poor price on the market. Malawi is already on the program to other profitable crops.

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Malawi Tobacco Farmers 5
Blantyre, Malawi
By Eldson Chagara
03 Feb 2014

Ireen Kameta and her family tie mature tobacco leaves in readiness for drying.  While the income from production was formerly concentrated among a limited number of commercial estate owners, such income is now spread among some 350,000 households, with powerful multiplier effects in rural areas. However, the poor price on the market is pushing the farmers away from the country’s number one foreign exchange earner. Kameta has five children, three girls and two boys. 

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Malawi Tobacco Farmers 4
Blantyre, Malawi
By Eldson Chagara
03 Feb 2014

Ireen Kameta and her family tie mature tobacco leaves in readiness for drying.  While the income from production was formerly concentrated among a limited number of commercial estate owners, such income is now spread among some 350,000 households, with powerful multiplier effects in rural areas. However, the poor price on the market is pushing the farmers away from the country’s number one foreign exchange earner. Kameta has five children, three girls and two boys. 

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Malawi Tobacco Farmers 6
Blantyre, Malawi
By Eldson Chagara
03 Feb 2014

Ireen Kameta’s income has never allowed her to have enough even for her own home. She lives in a grass-thatched house still after ten years as a tobacco farmer. The earlier flow of cash income into rural areas has slowed to a trickle in recent years as a result of sharp tobacco price declines, related to short-term international supply and demand conditions, reduced farm productivity and high and rising transaction and logistics costs in the tobacco marketing chain.

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Malawi Tobacco Farmers 8
Blantyre, Malawi
By Eldson Chagara
03 Feb 2014

Ireen Kameta cleans her utensils outside her home at Maleule, 42 kilometers northeast of Malawi’s commercial capital, Blantyre, February 3, 2014. While the poor tobacco price on the market is making life difficult for the local farmer, the anti-smoking lobby is making the tobacco industry even tougher. In Malawi, seven out of 10 workers are either directly or indirectly employed by the sector and tobacco represents 70 percent of the landlocked country's foreign exchange earnings.

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Malawi Tobacco Farmers 10
Blantyre, Malawi
By Eldson Chagara
03 Feb 2014

Chipiliro Phiri, 22, is a welder at a garage in Ndirande township in Blantyre. Chipiliro, who has been working with her family in tobacco farming, decided to move to the city after failing to raise enough money from the tobacco harvest last year. Many more farmers are trying some other crops outside of tobacco due to poor price on the market. Malawi is already on the program to other profitable crops.

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Malawi Tobacco Farmers 9
Blantyre, Malawi
By Eldson Chagara
03 Feb 2014

Falesi Laudoni sells vegetables in the up-market town of Zingwangwa in Blantyre city.  She had been a tobacco farmer for over ten years, but decided to quit in order to make more money. She makes 3 dollars a day in a country where an average resident lives on a dollar per day.  She says tobacco production is dwindling due to poor market price. Tobacco plays a central role in Malawi’s economy, accounting for 60 percent of its exports.

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Malawi Tobacco Farmers 7
Blantyre, Malawi
By Eldson Chagara
03 Feb 2014

Ireen Kameta cleans her utensils outside her home at Maleule, 42 kilometers northeast of Malawi’s commercial capital, Blantyre, February 3, 2014. While the poor tobacco price on the market is making life difficult for the local farmer, the anti-smoking lobby is making the tobacco industry even tougher. In Malawi, seven out of 10 workers are either directly or indirectly employed by the sector and tobacco represents 70 percent of the landlocked country's foreign exchange earnings.

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Malawi Tobacco Farmers 3
Blantyre, Malawi
By Eldson Chagara
03 Feb 2014

Ireen Kameta holds some of the harvested tobacco leaves at her tobacco field 42 kilometers northeast of Malawi’s commercial capital, Blantyre. Many farmers are leaving tobacco cultivation and venturing into other crops due to the poor price being offered on the market. The devaluation of the Malawi currency against the other currencies has had a very negative effect on Malawi’s crop production.

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Malawi Tobacco Farmers 14
Blantyre, Malawi
By Eldson Chagara
03 Feb 2014

Once a tobacco farmer in the village for two years after finishing her secondary education, Maliko Binali, 23, trekked to Blantyre city where he now makes a living by curving wood for furniture in the populous township of Ndirande. He says tobacco farming is too involving and demands a lot of energy and farm input for less output. Tobacco growers in Malawi have three options to sell their product. Tobacco growers can sell their product on auction floors through tobacco clubs. The unit price is high when sold at auction, but producers must have at least 100 kilograms. Many tobacco growers used to sell directly to a government institution called Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation, ADMARC, and earn a better package, but this practice fell out of favor after liberalization in the early 1990s.

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Malawi Tobacco Farmers 2
Blantyre, Malawi
By Eldson Chagara
03 Feb 2014

Ireen Kameta carries the harvested mature tobacco leaves from her field at Maleule, 42 kilometers northeast of Malawi’s commercial capital, Blantyre. The crop’s production is dwindling in a country whose economy is dependent on agriculture and tobacco remains its major export earner. The crop which used to fetch more money for both the country and the farmer is facing more challenges, including the global anti-smoking lobby and the poor price offered on the market. Malawi has been the leader in tobacco production in southern Africa dating back to the 1890s, and the industry is still the cornerstone of the country's economy.

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Malawi Tobacco Farmers 12
Blantyre, Malawi
By Eldson Chagara
03 Feb 2014

Magaret Luka arranges her fresh tomatoes on her bench at a local market in Malawi’s commercial capital.  Magaret says she used to grow tobacco when it was fetching more money. She decided to quit and start selling tomatoes. She is five years into the business and makes more than she could if she was still growing tobacco. Tobacco farming in Africa, and in particular in Malawi, is in crisis. It perpetuates poverty and it harms the environment.

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Malawi Tobacco Farmers
By Eldson Chagara
02 Feb 2014

Malawi, a country in southern Africa, depends heavily on tobacco production and sales to support its economy. Its reliance has contributed to Malawi's vulnerable economic position on the global level. However, as it stands now, the crop that has been the backbone for its economic growth is slowly losing its grip as some farmers are now turning to more profitable crops as tobacco loses value, such as soya, sunflower oil, soya, cassava and pigeon peas. Poor price on the market, the anti-smoking lobby and poor economic governance are some of the contributing factors to this trend.  According to the International Tobacco Growers Association, ITGA, transnational tobacco manufacturing and tobacco leaf companies have been collaborating in numerous efforts to oppose global tobacco control. One of their strategies is to stress the economic importance of tobacco to the developing countries that grow it. Malawi is an extreme example but not unique case of how transnational tobacco companies have used developing countries’ economic reliance on tobacco to oppose global tobacco control.  However, there is a push for Malawi to diversify their crops away from tobacco for economic stability. But for now, tobacco will remain the country's main foreign exchange earner. 
Photos and Text by Eldson Chagara

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Life in Malawi 2
By Arjen van de Merwe
16 Dec 2013

Sweet Potato Cultivation
At some point the lagoon used for irrigating the fields of the village ran dry. Investigation showed that the forest in the catchment area had been cut down for firewood. Now the forest is maintained, and cutting is made illegal. The water returned and the fields got irrigated again. Sweet potatoes from the field provide a meal for the family.

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Life in Malawi 4
Karonga, Nothern Region, Malawi
By Arjen van de Merwe
16 Dec 2013

African Woman Growing Sweet Potatoes
At some point the lagoon used for irrigating the fields of the village ran dry. Investigation showed that the forest in the catchment area had been cut down for firewood. Now the forest is maintained, and cutting is made illegal. The water returned and the fields got irrigated again. Sweet potatoes from the field provide a meal for the family.

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Lake Malawi (10 of 19)
Lake Malawi, Africa
By Luis Miguel Rodrigues
05 Aug 2013

The bridge in Mangochi marks the end of the lake and the beginning of Shire river, an affluent of Zambeze river. The bridge was made with donations from the Japanese Government. Malawi is one of the countries known for the good management of international funds given from donors.

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Lake Malawi - turbulent times in quie...
mangochi
By Luis Miguel Rodrigues
05 Aug 2013

Shire river starts in Mangochi and is the way for the waters of the lake go flow after the heavy rainy season that happens from December to May each year.

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Lake Malawi (11 of 19)
Lake Malawi, Africa
By Luis Miguel Rodrigues
05 Aug 2013

Typical landscape at the lake shore. Tourism is an important aspect of revenue for Malawi economy.

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Lake Malawi - turbulent times in quie...
salima
By Luis Miguel Rodrigues
05 Aug 2013

Canoes made from tree trunks are everywhere in the lake shores. Even if there is a fishing industrial business at the lake, most of this activity is made in traditional boats like this.

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Lake Malawi (12 of 19)
Lake Malawi, Africa
By Luis Miguel Rodrigues
05 Aug 2013

Fishing, bathing and washing clothes are constant activities at the lake.

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Lake Malawi (13 of 19)
Lake Malawi, Africa
By Luis Miguel Rodrigues
05 Aug 2013

Problems occur due to the oil reserves at the bottom of the Lake in Tanzania.

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Lake Malawi (15 of 19)
Lake Malawi, Africa
By Luis Miguel Rodrigues
05 Aug 2013

Malawi is cited, in Lonely Planet Travel guides, as one of the ten most peaceful and friendly countries in the world. Historically speaking, the country has never have experienced war and in 2013.

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Lake Malawi - turbulent times in quie...
malawi
By Luis Miguel Rodrigues
05 Aug 2013

Malawi is one of the poorest countries in Africa with high HIV rates.

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Lake Malawi (14 of 19)
Lake Malawi, Africa
By Luis Miguel Rodrigues
05 Aug 2013

Lake Malawi is the 3rd biggest African Lake, with nearly over 13 million habitants, only on the Malawi side of the lake.

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Lake Malawi - turbulent times in quie...
malawi
By Luis Miguel Rodrigues
05 Aug 2013

Fishing is the main activity at the lake and in the recent time there have been troubles, for both fisherman of Tanzania and Malawi, with maritime forces in both countries once they are accused of fishing in extra territorial waters.

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Lake Malawi (16 of 19)
Lake Malawi, Africa
By Luis Miguel Rodrigues
05 Aug 2013

Lake Malawi borders Malawi, Tanzania and Mozambique. Between Malawi and Mozambique the relationship has been cordial, at least about the lake since the borders stand exactly in the middle of the lake.

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Lake Malawi - turbulent times in quie...
malawi
By Luis Miguel Rodrigues
05 Aug 2013

Lake Malawi hosts 90% of the fresh water fish species of all the world in this single lake. Exporting them and tourism related with snorkeling is other of the activities, apart of fishing, that provide some jobs to the population.

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Lake Malawi (17 of 19)
Lake Malawi, Africa
By Luis Miguel Rodrigues
05 Aug 2013

Due to the official low profile relationship between Tanzania and Malawi, the weekly boats that cross the lake from its south to the north just stop in Mozambique and Malawian shores, avoiding the Tanzanian side of the lake. People that need to cross to Tanzania must use traditional boats to cross the lake.

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Lake Malawi - turbulent times in quie...
senga bay
By Luis Miguel Rodrigues
05 Aug 2013

Fish eagle in Livingstonia. This eagle is the national symbol of Malawian Police