Malawi is one of the world's least-developed countries. Its economy is heavily based in agriculture, with a largely rural population. Many of its more than 15 million people are in need of food assistance.
The food security situation in Malawi is precarious as the country is prone to natural disasters, from drought to heavy rainfalls, putting it in constant need of thousands of tons of food aid every year.
In the village of Chiunda in southern Malawi, bicycles were the first sign that things were going well. Owning a bike is a luxury and there presence indicates that there’s enough money for food, clothes and school fees.
The reason for this relative wealth: 47 fishponds owned by 32 farmers that serve as a major source of income and nutrition for the majority Chiunda’s 225 residents.
"Because of our fish ponds, all of these people bought bicycles, and most of us have cell phones,” explains Agnes Kanyema, a retired schoolteacher.
In November 2007, Cyclone Sidr devastated southern Bangladesh, taking more than 3000 lives and causing USD$2 billion in damage. “Sidr took our crops, fishpond and house, leaving us hopeless,” recalls Gita Roy of Jhalakathi District, who was one of thousands to lose both her home and her source of food and income.
In response to the disaster WorldFish led a USAID-funded project to restore the productive capacity of 46,500 fish, prawn and shrimp-farming households, and capture lessons on how to make disaster-prone coastal communities more resilient.
Bina Roy lives in rural Bangladesh. She is a wife, mother, a farmer and a fisher. Bina is also secretary to the committee that oversees fishing practices in her village. In 2002, she and her neighbors began implementing several new aquaculture practices to boost farmed fish production. The result: fish production increased by 20% and the improved practices have spread to 1,200 villages across Bangladesh's lowland floodplains, and are now yielding more than 1,200 tons of fish each year and generating nearly US$1 million in additional income.
Coastal areas, the inhabitants of which are often dependant on fish for food and income, are increasingly those most affected by natural disasters. This video takes a look at how one remote fishing community in Aceh, Indonesia, which was totally destroyed following the 2004 tsunami, is benefiting from rehabilitation efforts by WorldFish and partners that put the community at the heart of planning and implementing new options for their future.