Starving Malawians? What to do? The 2017 drought and famine asked us that question. This was the first year Wings Like Eagles did a regional response.
Wings is wedded to helping in disasters. Sometimes helicopters aren’t the very best thing. They are always useful. For tracking vulnerable populations. For moving medical teams. And they let the government see what’s going on.
But helicopters are not always the most cost effective. And the average UN sponsored fund raise for a disaster raises about 30% of what is asked for. So money is always tight. It’s good in one way. It helps us focus. That makes us efficient!
Help for starving Malawians?
Therefore in famines and droughts we need to improvise. We need to find other channels. Those channels are often cheaper. So we don’t need to spend so much to have the same effect.
Sometimes its more technical too. Many people live on or near the edge of the Great Rift Valley in Malawi. It is difficult flying. Mists. Up draughts of air. Turbulence. It needs real care and skill.
Also the people on the Shire River floodplain in southern Malawi are often very close to roads. So the best way to get things to them is by road. But in the uplands either side of the Rift there are different problems. And you need trusted conduits to get food to people. Otherwise it gets diverted. And the needy go without. NOT good!
So we have trusted partners. Salt Malawi is one. They helped us when we were setting up. Helped us understand the country. Have a look at what they do!
Food for the hungry – paid for by Wings, paid by you!
So in 2017 we paid for 4x4s to get food to the people. 4x4s from people we know. We cant help everyone. But we can help the ones we know. And in famines someone has to buy the food. Buy when the local prices are high. Buy when food is in short supply. So you need to know the markets. And the CIA Fact Book lists 12 local languages. So, local knowledge is a key.
Therefore, we teamed with our long standing allies in Malawi. They found and bought the food. They drove it to key places. And they gathered the people around.
This church based organisation then could give food to the mothers who needed it. See them taking a sack away to feed their families. This is compassion not religion.
Aid distribution isn’t perfect. And its very important that you avoid middle men. People who either take the food you have paid for and delivered and sell it on. Or worse, use it to exploit the hungry and needy. 45% of the population of Malawi is under 14. So the unscrupulous might exploit them. That’s why we use trusted partners.