James Sixa

It’s scary living here, with the lake drying up and then the flood.
James Sixa

Farmer James Sixa lives with his wife Estere and their six children near Lake Chilwa. It’s Malawi’s second largest lake, but last Autumn it dried up.

The people around the lake depend on fishing for their livelihoods, so after the lake dried up for the second time in three years, thousands of people left the area.

The CCPM works in this area because life is precarious here – and climate change is making that worse.

Through the local partner, Zomba Diocese Research and Development Department (ZAARD), James was given three goats and training on how to look after them.

Goats are useful because they can be bred, they produce milk, their manure is a strong fertiliser which can increase crop production, and the goats can even be sold if necessary. They offer much needed financial security for vulnerable families.

The downside of goats is they will happily eat any nearby crops. In order to counteract this, James was taught how to build a raised hut for them, to ensure they eat in a controlled way.

The hut was finished earlier this year, just a few months before floods hit this part of Malawi. But late one Saturday night in March disaster struck when they were hit by torrential rain. Fortunately, James and his family were saved in an unexpected way.

“The rain was terrible, it was so heavy, and then our home collapsed. We didn’t know where to go or what to do, there was water everywhere. So we all got in the goat house with the goats. We didn’t know what would happen.”

The next morning they were rescued by a man in a boat from the next village and taken to a camp for people who had lost their homes.

Thanks to the support of the CCPM, James is confident that he and his family can make a full recovery.

“We can rebuild and make sure the crops get harvested,” James said. “Yes, it’s scary living here, with the lake drying up and then the flood. You don’t know what will happen next – but what choice do we have. At least we have the goats. This gives me hope.”