During the 1930s, people in the Lake Chilwa Basin in Malawi had to cope with both the drying up of Lake Chilwa and the global economic depression. We chose to describe this confluence on Chisi Island as the 'double crisis,' and it may at first glance seem obvious, but on examination becomes quite complex. In the case of the Lake Chilwa, the colonial administration introduced cotton production on the dry lake bed to boost the economy of Nyasaland in the face of the economic depression. However, the people of Chisi Island successfully resisted cotton farming. The 'double crisis' illustrates how power-relations shape scarcity and vice versa.