Lake Chilwa is the second-largest lake in Malawi. Approximately 60 km long and 40 km wide. Lake Chilwa is shallow and saline and prone to seasonal variations in water level as a result of climate change.
Belita Fenek, 34, is a mother of seven children. She trades rice porridge on the periphery of Lake Chilwa. Her business is disrupted through the changing water levels of Lake Chilwa, which sees the migration of traders fluctuate.
Belita walks for hours each morning until reaching an area she can trade in. During the rainy season she must walk through the water of the lake. There are no toilets, so the lake itself is used as one. No sanitation means the risk of Cholera is high, one Belita puts herself at risk of every day.
Belita says, ‘My message to anyone out there is that whenever the lake is dry, our lives are shattered. We are left hopeless unlike now when the lake is full. My worry is lack of toilets. It feels bad to walk in these waters knowing that it contains human waste. Many of us take off our shoes to navigate through. This puts us at more risk to diseases such as cholera.’
Currently not a WaterAid project area. It has been made aware to us by WaterAid staff photographer Dennis Lupenga through a personal project.
As we approach COP26, there are a lot of opportunities to take action both to combat the climate crisis and to work to build active resourcing and support for communities most affected by the climate crisis. Click on any of the links below for starting points to get involved: