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Environment

Landscape scene with trees and water
USAID protects biodiversity in Malawi by engaging local communities to govern their natural resources.
USAID/O. Chimenya

 

The threat of climate change could undermine Malawi’s development gains. Farmers—which make up 80 percent of the population—are especially vulnerable to changing weather patterns and extreme weather events. About 90 percent of the country’s arable land is dependent on rainfall, and Malawi experiences only one rainy season per year. The unsustainable use of natural resources has exerted pressure on the environment causing a number of problems such as soil erosion, deforestation, water degradation, and loss of biodiversity among many others. Our work protects biodiversity in a way that is environmentally and economically sound.

Biodiversity

USAID’s Kulera (‘to nurture’ in Chichewa) project is helping 45,000 resource-poor households to develop independent businesses that produce, process and market agricultural and natural products. This increases incomes for rural families and provides an alternative to unsustainable natural resource use in Malawi’s protected areas. We also promote community engagement in governance of local resources.

Climate Change

Malawi’s forest cover dropped from 44 percent in the 1970s to 28 percent in the 1990s. USAID’s climate adaptation activities are based on a comprehensive vulnerability analysis and will promote better forest conservation policies and support pilot and demonstration activities for REDD—Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation. We also promote conservation agriculture and sustainable tree planting to improve food security and reduce the overexploitation of neighboring forests.

Water

USAID helps communities improve governance of water resources by forming water-user associations, increasing access to quality potable water and sanitation by rehabilitating existing water systems, constructing new ones where needed, and installing low cost, eco-friendly latrines that help reduce water-borne diseases.

Last updated: July 21, 2014

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