Malawi 21 April 2020
From the principal of a theological institute
Harvest and Crop Outlook for the Year
“Malawi is an agro based country that relies on agriculture for the people’s livelihood. Unfortunately over 80% of her farming system is subsistence which always poses a challenge to sustainable production of maize for the nation. Much of her produce depends on rain fed agriculture and with the change in rainfall pattern due to global warming effect the rains have not been reliable for a couple of years. Sometimes the country experiences heavy flooding that results in poor harvests and in many cases people lose their lives.
“The general outlook of rains for 2019/2020 growing season was good and better than the previous year. Many farming areas of central region and some parts of the southern and northern regions received uninterrupted rains. They did not experience worse droughts as was the case in the last growing season. We thank God for the good rains. If the government still implements a lockdown plan to prevent the spread of COVID-19, harvesting of crops will greatly be affected because the farmers have just started to remove their crops from the field. This will also affect the selling of these crops on the market.
Food Security Situation in Malawi
“It should also be noted that Malawi’s staple food is maize and food security is measured according to the supply of maize on a national scale. However, there is little hope for stable food security because of the spiral over effect. The poor harvest of the last growing season has made people to start using their maize while in the field, and maize prices on the market are still higher now.
“Hence, food security in Malawi is not stable even though the rains were better than other growing seasons. Most parts of the country will continue to experience nominal food security outcomes.
Convid-19 Pandemic Situation in Malawi
“Malawi like many other countries have not been spared with Corona virus pandemic. The effects range from social, economic and spiritual aspects of human life. According to government information, the pandemic has claimed two lives among the 17 who have tested positive. The government has shut down all schools and introduced measures to slow down the spread of the disease such as those that have been set by the WHO. Being a global issue, the churches too are asked to take part in sensitizing the members the dangers of the disease and how it can be prevented.
“Last Thursday the government wanted to implement a three week lockdown. However, the plan was challenged in court by Civil Society organizations because the government failed to put in place measures that would ease the life of the poor people and local vendors whose business is hand to mouth. The committee that coordinates the affairs of the pandemic lacks inclusiveness; as such many people think that the government is politicizing the situation to gain unnecessary mirage this time Malawi is preparing for the second presidential re-run.
“The effect of Convid-19 is so huge to the economy of the country which is already staggering. Malawi is a landlocked country and the pandemic has among other sectors paralyzed micro-economic sector because the small business people cannot cross the border for trade.
COVID-19 Threats to the Church
“The biggest challenge of COVID-19 on the church, as perceived by many, is economic one as the banning of the church gathering will automatically dwindle the church revenue. Thus, the bone of contention is economic in nature as it is culturally challenging. Not many church members are accustomed to tithing. As such the large membership does not translate into more revenue because giving by many is in the form of offering. Hence banning the church gathering is a big loss in its revenue. Perhaps this will bring in a new paradigm shift in as far as church giving is concerned because it is in such difficulty times that new ideas are conceived to rescue the situation.
“The banning of church gathering due to COVID-19 will somehow also affect the spiritual life of the church because of the mindset people have that worship is only confined to the church building or the sanctuary. It is a similar situation the Jews had when they were taken to captivity in Babylon leaving the temple behind. However, with time, people will realize that worship can be done even at home in their closet…
COVID-19 Threat to [the theological institute]
“With the economic impact that the churches are getting from the pandemic, it is very clear that [the institute] could not be spared in this chain. [The institute] gets support from the church and the fees from both pastoral and non-pastoral students. This has already paralyzed its operations due to lack of funds. The students are now at home and from the look of things it is going to affect the academic calendar of the school. “While the university is looking for possibilities to introduce e-learning, many students are disadvantaged because they do not possess electronic devices such as computers and good cellphones. Another challenge would be poor access to internet facilities in their localities. It is indeed a crisis which requires financial support on all fronts.
“As an encouragement, the church needs to draw lessons from this pandemic to begin thinking outside of the box both spiritually and economically. This disease has brought a spiritual awakening. As Christian leaders, we should be prepared to face similar challenges in life and learn to work together to alleviate the suffering of the people. It is encouraging to note that the Christians are able to work together and adhere to instructions on how to check the spread of the pandemic.”