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Malawi already appears to be suffering from the negative effects of climate change. Extremely high temperatures are occurring more frequently. Precipitation patterns are changing. In the coming decades, rainfall is likely to become more erratic and concentrated into heavy rainfall events that can cause flooding, temperatures will reach the heat threshold of some crops, and extended dry periods will become more common. These changes have major implications for human welfare and threaten to undermine development gains across sectors. Malawi’s vulnerability to climate change is exacerbated by high population growth, rapid deforestation, and widespread soil erosion.
To address these challenges, USAID partners with the Government of Malawi (GoM) and a wide variety of Malawian institutions to advance Malawi’s low-emissions, climate-resilient development. At the national level, USAID is working with the GoM to develop a strategy for combatting deforestation and improving forest governance. Site-based interventions to address drivers of deforestation help generate livelihood opportunities for vulnerable households. For example, in the fisheries sector, USAID improves the livelihoods of fishermen by building their resilience to climate change while conserving biodiversity in Lake Malawi, a globally significant freshwater ecosytem.
In 2014, USAID continued to support a robust institutional framework for Malawi’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+). Eleven institutions improved their capacity to address climate change, a national REDD+ action plan was developed, and Malawi achieved membership in UN-REDD. In addition, the Kulera Landscape REDD+ Program, which covers more than 455,000 hectares, completed verification of its emission reduction approach.
In late 2014, USAID launched two major new climate change programs. Protecting Ecosystems and Restoring Forests in Malawi (PERFORM) advances national priorities for low-emissions development. Through integrated approaches to agriculture and forestry, PERFORM will generate livelihood opportunities for thousands of forest-dependent Malawians while also supporting improved forest governance at the national level.
Building on the latest analysis of Malawi’s climate change vulnerabilities, Fisheries Integration of Societies and Habitats (FISH) is strengthening the capacity of the Fisheries Department to safeguard Malawi’s fisheries and promote sustainable fisheries co-management. FISH increases scientific understanding of the effects of climate change on Lake Malawi, which has the most biodiverse fish population of any lake in the world, and supports climate-resilient livelihoods.
USAID climate change investments build resiliency and safeguard development gains in other sectors.
Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining
Tetra Tech ARD
The Upper Shire River Basin
David Chalmers, Environment Team Leader
Last updated: March 17, 2015