In the early months of 2023, Malawi found itself grappling with the devastating aftermath of Cyclone Freddy, and the southern region, particularly Phalombe district, bore the brunt of its ferocity. Among the districts affected, Phalombe's Michesi primary school, located in Traditional Authority Nazombe, faced the imminent threat of soil erosion and other adverse impacts in the wake of the cyclone.
Fortunately, the proactive measures taken by the school, in collaboration with the community and facilitated by the training on a safe school committee conducted by CRECCOM under Girls Get Equal project funded by NORAD through Plan International Malawi in 2021, proved to be a crucial shield against the destructive forces of Cyclone Freddy. Mary Baluwa, the chairperson for the Parent Teachers Association (PTA) at Michesi primary school, who was also part of safe school committee training, played a pivotal role in implementing these measures.
Reflecting on the preparedness initiatives, Baluwa shared, "With the training provided by CRECCOM, we held a meeting with parents to discuss how to safeguard the school's land from erosion." This foresight led to a collaborative effort between the school and the surrounding community, as they mobilized resources to fortify the school grounds.
Together, they embarked on a mission to mitigate the potential risks. "The school and the community worked hand in hand, mobilizing sand, strategically planting vertical vegetation around the premises, and adorning the land with rocks to preserve its integrity and aesthetic appeal," Baluwa explained.
Crucially, the community's involvement extended beyond mere collaboration. Parents actively participated in sourcing and placing rocks, forming a robust line of defense against soil erosion during the cyclone season. Baluwa emphasized, "During the time of Cyclone Freddy, flowers, together with the rocks, played a vital role in preventing the school surface from being washed away."
This inspiring tale from Michesi primary school underscores the importance of proactive community engagement, education, and preparedness in the face of natural disasters. By taking decisive action, the school and its community not only protected their immediate environment but also demonstrated the resilience that can emerge when communities unite to face adversity head-on.