Sunday, 6 March 2011

It never rains but it pours

When I was a child, I didn't understand the expression, it never rains but it pours. These days, I begin to feel as though it is a good metaphor of the reality of living in Southern Africa. It seems it's always either a drought or a flood. This rainy season has been particularly bad, affecting everyone including South Africa (quite badly). Mozambique has finally been able to lift the Zambezi valley red alert, but the hardships are not over. Just this weekend, 25 people were killed in heavy rains in Southwestern Angola. In Malawi, families are asking the government to help them compensate for the maize lost to floods. It's easy to take water for granted when it's not trying to kill you, either by staying away or by raining down all at the same time. It's easy to see why water played such an important role in the traditional mythology of several African peoples. I wonder if those doing needs assessments and rapid rural appraisals in Africa ever ask about the relationship with water. More and more, I feel like giving people ways to control water may be the key to real development in this part of the world.

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