In rural Africa, drought, flooding and poor soils means people frequently go hungry, often going to bed without eating. In Malawi, when Alice Cheda’s crop failed, she found paid work but food prices increased so her wages put virtually nothing on the table. Desperation forces some women and girls into prostitution risking social stigma and HIV/AIDS. The young suffer most. Malnutrition causes children’s bodies to waste increasing the likelihood of disease. In the long-term, problems like stunted growth impact both this generation and the next. Paying school fees for his children became impossible, but no one learns with an empty stomach.
Normally, traditional systems of borrowing and loan repayment help farmers access cash for food medicines, weddings, or funeral costs. But when no one had enough, village loan systems fall apart. Some farmers sell land off cheaply to buy food, reducing their ability to grow enough in the future. Paying school fees becomes impossible, but children can’t learn with empty stomachs.