Malawian Farmers Say Adapt to Climate Change or Die


Rain is so important in Malawi's agriculture-based economy that there are names for different kinds of it, from the brief bursts of early fall to heavier downpours called mvula yodzalira, literally "planting rain." For generations, rainfall patterns here in the southeast part of Africa have been predictable, reliable. But not now.

In the village of Jasi, in the hot, flat valley of Malawi's Lower Shire, farmer Pensulo Melo says 2010 was a disaster.

"I first planted my maize on Nov. 15," he says, "but the rain dried up, and so did my crop." Recalling each date precisely, Melo says he planted again after it rained on Dec. 10. But again, the rain stopped.