Lusaka, Zambia … When a hailstorm, windstorm, or catastrophic flood strikes your next-door neighbor you are seldom, if ever, unscathed from a measure of damage yourself. This is true in times of famine or natural disasters in sub-Saharan Africa. For Malawi, what happens to its neighbors, especially Zambia, has several ramifications. Not only are natural calamities especially significant because of the economic watershed that comes with them, but Zambia is especially important to Malawi because the Chewa Nation extends east and west from the lake to an area around Lusaka, Zambia. Much of Central Malawi originally recognized its tribal borders as being east-west borders, not those of today’s north-south borders. Today’s borders were created by the British during the Colonial Period. Therefore, because of the Chewa background what happens in neighboring Zambia is happening to “family”. 

Because of its proximity to Malawi, and because the prevailing winds across much of Malawi on their way to Zambia, the lack of rainfall in Zambia is probably already affecting Malawi. 

In the past few days, President Hakainde Hitychilema of Zambia has declared a national disaster and is appealing to the world for emergency assistance. Drought is affecting crops over more than half of the entire nation, and the latest report indicates the maize crop failures are already affecting 6 of 10 provinces or 84 of 116 districts.

The trouble next door is already being felt in Malawi.

In the picture, Richard Stephens, co-founder of the Malawi Project, points to Malawi on an African map. Zambia is just to the left of Malawi. 


Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world, ranked 174 of 189 countries on the Human Development Index. Over half the population lives in poverty, and one-fifth in extreme poverty.

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