Travel The return journey was fine and the potential difficulties with immigration issues never materialised, for which we give thanks. On arrival we enquired at immigration why we have not yet received the new promised TEP and the answer given is that the right hand does not know what the left hand has received. We have made all necessary payments but the office issuing the visa did not know that this was so - despite our sending a copy of the necessary receipts in April, and that their computer shows the payment has been made.
The Farm There is much to give thanks for. There were no real problems with any of the houses, the solar installations nor the solar geysers. A pipe from the pump to the water tank did need a major repair however, and this had been waiting for our return for some time. The water level in the borehole appears very low and we learn from Jobson that this generally is the case in Dedza itself. We are implementing a regime of careful consumption involving recycling grey water wherever possible and using the borehole water for drinking and washing only. WC cistern water and water for washing floors are to be drawn from a shallow well until the rains come!
The Feeding Programmes Between our team and Chiyembekezo (an independent church leader who has associated himself and his church with us) we have bought the food required for the programme at Nyombe, and we have a large amount ready for the programme at Mphalale. We visited the group headman at Mphalale yesterday in order to start planning the programme and that was a surprisingly positive experience. He has begged us to include a village called Chakana where every year people die of hunger. this village is not known to me. we have agreed and are now planning a visit during which we might also discuss an opportunity to do some preaching too.
The Country 4.1 We have a fuel crisis once again, although perhaps not yet of the same magnitude as last year. Dedza is currently dry and last week so was much of LLW as far as we can understand. The problem is the continuing absence of sufficient forex to pay for what Malawi needs. Apparently the donors have not yet started giving all that had been promised - perceived difficulties in government still remain the principle obstacle.
4.2 Prices have escalated. The huge devaluations that have taken place during the year combined with equally high increases in fuel costs have had a devastating effect on the prices of simple commodities. eg Milk powder has more than doubled in price; fertilisers are now over 12,000 kwacha for a 50 kg bag. Two years ago the same bag would have cost under 5,000. There will be many people who will not use adequate amounts of fertiliser this year and that will mean less food in 2013. One piece of good news is that sugar is now available again and the ridiculously high prices of March and April have been replaced with more affordable costs.
4.3 The new president is now under attack because of the high inflation (officially 25% - arguably the real level is much higher - even twice that level perhaps!).