From Planes to Rains
Hi! My name is Anders Sjöstrand, and I will be working at MUD Africa’s intern this spring, picking up where Matilda left off in January. To give a little background as to why I’m writing in English when I have such a Swedish name, which some of you may be wondering, I am Swedish/American but lived in the States until about 4 years ago. I moved to Sweden to study the master’s program Globalization, Environment, and Social Change at Stockholm University, which I completed last year. My academic interests range from socially-just conservation, land rights issues, environmental imagery, access rights, and political ecology. And now I have the opportunity to work with one of these interests in Malawi! I am so excited to be here, and look forward to working with MUD Africa and LUPPEN over the next three months!
I finally arrived in Lilongwe this past Thursday, after a long and tiring flight from Stockholm. I have never been to East Africa before, so I didn’t really know what to expect when people spoke of the ‘rainy season’, but I was given a thunderous introduction by a hefty storm on my first night. Unfortunately, the storm brought serious flooding to some of the settlements around Lilongwe, most acutely in Area 49, which you can read about here. Hearing about the flooding was a quick introduction into the poverty and vulnerability of many of the urban poor in Lilongwe, especially in the settlements that lie in flood prone areas, where many live in transitional, low-cost housing.
On Friday, Markus and I met with the LUPPEN team, and got the ball rolling on the planning process of our upcoming activities. It was immediately clear how warm and welcoming the team was, and I’m already anxious to work with such a knowledgeable and experienced group. Unfortunately, we have to wait to begin the ‘main’ activities, because LUPPEN needs next week to finalize the activity reports that need to be sent back to MUD Africa. However, during the following week from the 20th to the 24th, we have planned to do follow-ups in four of the newer settlements involved with the project- Katantha, Area 44, Kamphinda, and Kaliwawala. During these follow-ups, we plan to evaluate the progress being made since Matilda visited the same areas in January.
On the following Monday, we will have the first preparatory meeting for the school trainings, which we will be busy with for the following five weeks. More on that to come!
We have some exciting activities coming up, and will keep you updated as they start rolling along! Until next time! /Anders