Living in fear of the weather.

We are used to the rain in New Zealand but imagine fearing it. For 14-year-old Prisca, this is her story.

Prisca lives with her mum and brother on a small farm (80m by 80m) in southern Malawi. Every morning she gets up at 4.30 and helps her mum in the field weeding the crops before school. They weed the crops in the morning and again in the afternoon to get a better harvest (how much crop is produced).

Prisca and her family get nearly all their food from their farm so it’s really important that the harvest is good, so they have enough to eat. Their diet is simple, pumpkin leaves and maize paste called nsima, two or three times a day.


Malawi’s climate is dry and hot for most of the year, with 4 months of rain between December and March. They need the rain for the crops to grow…but not too much. As the land is so dry, when it does rain, the crops can easily be washed away or destroyed.

Prisca walks to school every day. In the dry season, she walks through the fields and crosses the stream. When the rains start, the stream gets too high and she walks a much longer route through the village and across the bridge. About once a week during the rainy season, the bridge floods to the point of being unusable and she can’t get to school.

“Sometimes it rains so much that the bridge is completely covered in water. I am often scared that the bridge will be swept away, and someone will drown.”


Over the last few years, the weather has changed in Malawi and has become more extreme causing chaos with cyclones, flash flooding and drought. For a family who relies so heavily on their crops for survival, this is their greatest fear. Without their crops they have no food, resulting in food shortages, hunger and malnutrition.

In 2019, Cyclone Idai (one of the worst tropical cyclones on record to affect Africa) caused widespread flooding in Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi.

“First, I heard a big bang in the night which woke me up. The bang was my grandmother’s house falling down from the rainwater pouring down across the fields. I could hear tools and cutlery being washed away, clanging against each other. People were crying as they searched for their loved ones who were being swept away, or as they were swept away themselves. I was so scared that we would be next.”

The cyclone caused devastation across Malawi washing away crops and destroying homes. Many families struggled for food as they lost their crops and children went to bed hungry. All due to the extreme weather events, caused by climate change and completely out of their control.


In Malawi, there are 15 million rural families, like Prisca’s. One bad harvest due to flood or drought can flip them from feast to famine.

“There was no food in the house, no maize and I was really hungry. I didn’t know if I could continue to go to school. I didn’t know how I would be able to concentrate.”

Together with your support of the World Vision 40 Hour Famine, we are providing these climate-vulnerable communities with the support to adapt to the changing climate and survive.

Prisca is lucky, she is a World Vision sponsored child. Thanks to generous sponsors Prisca’s community was provided with watering systems that feed the crops enough water while stopping soil erosion from flooding so that they stand a better chance of surviving the harsh weather conditions.


Prisca is learning about how to care for these crops through the World Vision gardening clubs and agriculture classes where they learn conservation and new farming techniques at schools and then share their skills with their families at home.

Her family has two goats as part of the goat pass-on scheme. They use the manure for fertiliser on the crops or they sell a goat to buy food or supplies for their home. These goats are their fall back if the crops fail.

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