Written by Rhodrick D. Sagawa; BASEflow Data Quality Coordinator

Nature’s wrath is often beyond our control, and its impact can be felt most strongly in the aftermath of a disaster. Recently, I visited the areas affected by Cyclone Freddy in TA Njema, Mulanje. The main purpose of my visit was to coordinate field assessment on the impact of Cyclone Freddy on water supply infrastructures, Health Facilities, Education Institutions, Irrigation Farmlands and Camp Management.

During my visit, I travelled to east Muloza which was severely impacted by the Cyclone. Upon reaching the Nanchidwa area, the sight of the impact of the cyclone is still visible as if it happened yesterday. The once-thriving villages had been reduced to rubble, with homes torn apart, roofs collapsed, and debris as well as silt scattered across the landscape. The remnants of what were once thriving communities now lay in ruins.

One of the most heart-wrenching scenes was the sight of washed-away irrigation schemes. The Nanchidwa irrigation fields that were once vibrant with crops were now submerged under layers of silt (sand) and debris. The livelihoods of countless farmers had been washed away, leaving them with the daunting task of rebuilding their lands from scratch. Across the Nanchidwa stream, there was a bridge which has been completely covered in sand such that I did not know of its existence until a community member told me.

What used to be Nanchidwa Irrigation Scheme (left)
The ruins of Nanchidwa Primary School (right)

Access to clean water is a fundamental need, and Cyclone Freddy disrupted this basic necessity for many. The destruction of boreholes and gravity-fed system pipes which were once a reliable source of water, left communities grappling with water scarcity. As I saw the locals struggling to fetch water from scoop wells, and unprotected and damaged sources, it highlighted the urgency of restoring these vital water infrastructure systems to prevent further hardship.

In the eastern part of Muloza, there are over 10 places where mudslides and floodwaters deposited rocks and logs in low-lying areas. These unwanted “gifts” from nature have transformed serene landscapes into hazardous zones. Settlements, infrastructure including bridges and development facilities have all been destroyed by these rocks and logs.The roadway and routes that had once served as the arteries connecting villages, had suffered extensive damage. Landslides and flooding had left roads impassable, isolating communities from vital services. Beyond Nanchidwa, ordinary cars cannot travel. Motorbikes are the simplest form of transportation there.

As I interacted with the local residents, I discovered that many families were still living in temporary shelters (tents) and camps. While the conditions were far from ideal, their spirit remained unbroken. These camps had become tight-knit communities, where people supported each other emotionally and physically. As I left TA Njema, I couldn’t help but carry a sense of responsibility with me. Although the people there faced enormous challenges, they never lost their hearts. It’s a reminder that, in the face of natural disasters, it’s not just the physical structures that need rebuilding, it’s the human connections, the communities, and the hope that must be nurtured back to life.

If I learned anything from this experience, it was the value of empathy and the significance of group efforts. While nature may test our resilience, it’s our unity and compassion that ultimately shape our recovery. The road ahead for TA Njema is undoubtedly long, but with everyone’s prayer and support, there’s hope for a brighter, rebuilt future.

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