The sound of a bell rings out to announce that the school day has just finished at Kathebwe Primary School. It’s a hot, sunny day. Children run outside and start to disperse. Some go home to nearby villages, while others start kicking a ball around on the school field. A third group joins their mothers and younger siblings, who are sitting with a hundred or more flood victims in the shade of a large tree. Since the heavy rains and floods of early March, this school has doubled as an evacuation centre.
Beatrice Harold and her newborn daughter have been living in a classroom at their local primary school ever since flood waters swept through southern Malawi three weeks ago
It is mid-morning in Mangumba village in Zomba, Southern Malawi, and Neverson Nazombe’s day is off to a good start. An hour before, he set up a health clinic under a tree and asked mothers from the surrounding houses to join him with their children, under the age of five. About 20 women came.
“I not only communicate key messages, but also ask mothers and fathers to give their views on issues which might need explanation,” said Madzifewe, who works at Nyanthepa Community Radio, which is supported by UNICEF.
In the middle of a muddy field next to a reservoir in Kasungu District, a team of scientists are hard at work. Boxes of equipment lie scattered around a patch of dry ground, where Lancaster University’s Michelle Stanton programmes an automated drone flight into a laptop perched on a metal box. With a high-pitched whirr of rotor blades, the drone takes off and starts following the shoreline, taking photos as it goes.
It’s only September, but the heat is already becoming unbearable. At the peak of summer, temperatures rise to a scorching 42°C in Nsanje, southern Malawi. The main road which traverses Malawi from Karonga in the north, becomes an earth road in the southern district. About 56km of bumpy earth road leads to Ndamera. There is not much to see on the way, just a few cows and some kiosks. The heat and the dust make the journey seem even longer.