Along the Shire River

Ron Steffens
2 min readOct 20, 2016

At the end of the dry season the Shire River is far below its banks, and this is the river that hydro-powers much of the electricity for the country. More than the loss of power, this drought has led to a failing or diminished maize crop, with prices doubling for the food source that provides 70% of a typical Malawian’s caloric intake. With two droughts in a row, Malawi is feeling climate change harder than most.

For more details, this reporting by IRIN — “The Inside Story on Emergencies” — offers insights into why managing fire and supporting forestry and agriculture here is key.’s-hunger-season

As Madalitso Kateta ( reports:

Two dry seasons in a row have prompted a wake-up call over the threat of climate change, the vulnerability of Malawi’s rain-fed drought sensitive maize crop, and the rural poverty that undermines resilience.

Minister of Agriculture Allan Chiyembekeza has called on farmers to diversify, warning that the government can only do so much. “When there is a calamity, everyone blames government, yet it can only help where it can,” he said.

James Okoth of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization urges the government and farmers to use the latest irrigation technologies to modernise production.

“We also need to encourage subsistence farmers to plant crops that resist the waves of climate change such as cassava and potatoes,” he told IRIN.



Ron Steffens

Writing on people, places & priorities. Working as a park ranger & firefighter & adjunct faculty @PrescottCollege. From Arizona, Oregon, Wyoming, Africa & afar.