The winds of change

:
Climate change, poverty and the
environment in Malawi
Acknowledgements
This report was written by John Magrath, Programme Researcher, Oxfam GB, and Elvis Sukali, Media and Communications
Officer, Oxfam GB in Malawi. The report was commissioned by Sanjay Awasthi, Country Director, the Joint Oxfam Programme
in Malawi.

The authors express their grateful thanks to all the people and organisations mentioned in the text and to those whose
observations unfortunately had to be omitted for reasons of space. Research was carried out at various times, chiefly December
2008 and January 2009. Particular thanks go to Mazoe Gondwe, Chairperson for the Women’s Forum in Northern Malawi, for
facilitating research there.

Oxfam’s work in Malawi is a joint programme of Oxfam Australia, Oxfam GB, Oxfam Hong Kong, Oxfam Ireland and Oxfam Novib.

This report is part of a series commissioned by Oxfam national country programmes to explore and highlight the links between
climate change and poverty, and between climate change adaptation and development. The series includes reports on Russia,
Uganda, Vietnam, and the UK, all available online at www.oxfam.org

For further information on the issues raised in this report please contact:
The Joint Oxfam Programme in Malawi
Private Bag B-331
Capital City
Lilongwe-3
Malawi
Email: infomalawi@oxfam.org.uk
Tel: +265 1 770525, 770489
Fax: +265 1 770491

First published by Oxfam International in 2009.
© Oxfam International 2009
Online ISBN: 978-1-84814-095-0

All rights reserved. This publication is copyright, but the text may be used free of charge for the purposes of advocacy,
campaigning, education, and research, provided that the source is acknowledged in full. The copyright holder requests that all
such use be registered with them for impact assessment purposes. For copying in any other circumstances, or for re-use in other
publications, or for translation or adaptation, permission must be secured and a fee may be charged. E-mail publish@oxfam.org.
uk. The information in this report is correct at the time of going to press.

Front cover image: People in Malawi say the familiar winds are becoming more erratic and unreliable, and sometimes
dangerously strong. Droughts and floods are increasing, partly because of deforestation and the cutting down of reed beds such
as these on the shores of Lake Malawi. Photo: John Magrath/Oxfam.

All photographs in this report are by John Magrath or Elvis Sukali unless otherwise stated. Designed by Nigel Willmott.
Oxfam is a registered charity in England and Wales No 202918 and Scotland SCO 039042. Inhouse 4122
Contents
Executive Summary 1
The climate of Malawi 9
Climate change, poverty and vulnerability 12
Changes to the winds and rains 14
Climate change impacts on agriculture 16
Droughts and deforestation 20
The need for charcoal 23
Climate change impacts on fisheries 25
Floods: the counterpart to drought 28
Climate change connections to HIV and AIDS 29
Adapting to climate change 32
Malawi’s record maize harvests 35
Adaptation and development: the connections 37
Malawi’s National Adaptation Programmes of Action (NAPA) 39
Innocent Willinga: a brighter future on canvas 43
Conclusions and recommendations 45
Endnotes 47
Executive Summary A wind of climate change is blowing
through the southern African nation of Malawi, bringing
confusion to fisherfolk and farmers alike.
“Previously water would flood mainly Malawi. Sometimes the winds are during the hungry months before
at the peak of the rainfall season and so strong, and rains so heavy, that the harvest. The spread of HIV in
mainly along the river banks. These days, they destroy houses, crops and turn weakens people’s ability to
floods occur anytime during the rainy boats. respond to the changing climate. It
season. Previously people would relocate saps both individual strength and
Furthermore, people report that
to higher grounds but these days even institutional capacity to respond
the main rainy season is becoming
people settled in areas once considered to the twin challenges of climate
ever-more unpredictable. In
safe are affected by floods” change and HIV and AIDS.
general over the last 40 years
Ebbie Mwakasungula, Village
they say temperatures are hotter People’s observations of winds, rain
Headman, Karonga
and the rains are arriving later and temperatures are consistent
“We expect rains and they don’t come, or and becoming more intense and with what scientists say are the
we get heavy rains, which only destroy concentrated, which reduces the likely climatic changes resulting
and don’t help our crop production” length of the growing season and from man-made global warming,
Peter Chapasi, Thomasi village, triggers both more droughts and caused primarily by the emissions
Thyolo more floods. of carbon dioxide and other so-
called “greenhouse gases” through
“Heavy winds blow away our houses”. Climate change interacts with
the burning of coal, oil and gas by
Enless Nakhuba, Thomasi village, environmental degradation,
today’s industrial powers.
Thyolo notably deforestation, and it is
women who suffer most. Women In Malawi, though, people connect
In Malawi the winds shape the
have multiple roles as farmers and these alterations in winds and
lives and livelihoods of farmers and
bringers of water and firewood and rainfall patterns not to pollution
fisherfolk. They know each wind
so depend very directly on natural from industry in the global
by name, when it comes, how it
resources. At the same time their North, but to environmental
behaves, its effects, and therefore,
position in society means that changes closer to home: notably
what they should do in response.
generally they have less access to deforestation. Malawi has one of
But now they say that the winds
income and credit and little or no the highest rates of deforestation in
that once brought rain to make the
voice in decision making. southern Africa, primarily because
crops grow and fish to their nets
the rapidly rising population has
no longer blow as and when they That resulting increased
almost no access to any other
should. Instead there is a muddle vulnerability feeds the spread
form of fuel and so depends upon
of contradictory currents, both in of HIV and AIDS, for example if
charcoal for cooking. As a result,
the air and in the waters of Lake women resort to selling sex for food
people have also lost access to

1
Rose Kaluma working
in the family’s
vegetable garden. Rose
explains: ‘I’ve always
had a garden as well
as land where I mainly
grow maize.’ Malawi
has enjoyed two record
breaking harvests
in a row. However,
Malawi is dangerously
over-dependent on
maize. The challenge
now is to diversify
crops, implement
effective agricultural
policies and practices
and of course rely
on continuing good
rains. Photo: Annie
Bungeroth/Oxfam
forest foods that once helped them fickle climate. Crucially 2006 and diversify livelihoods, ranging from
through hungry times. 2007 were years of generally good assistance in looking after HIV and
rain and just as crucially, improved AIDS orphans to free up some of
Now there is a big drive to plant
government policies and support, their time and energy, to access
more trees. But as one village
meant two record-breaking to credit and loans to start small
woman asked Oxfam researchers,
national maize harvests in a row. businesses.
“if we plant all these trees, will that
The record-breaking harvests
solve the problem?”. Planting trees The government of Malawi has
give hope for the future, albeit
in Malawi will not stop global developed a list of priority activities
fragile. Malawi is dangerously
warming which is primarily due that it wants to implement in
over-dependent on maize. Building
to carbon dioxide emissions from order to start adaptation to
resilience to climate change
industry and transport. But, up climate change. Malawi’s National
means seizing this moment to
to a point, and as part of a suite Adaptation Programmes of Action
diversify crops and diversify rural
of adaptation practices, it will (NAPAs) aim to improve community
livelihoods ready for the next time
certainly help people to cope with resilience, restore forests, improve
that the rains are poor.
climate change impacts by shading agricultural production, and
the soil, acting as wind breaks, Good adaptation and good improve preparedness for floods
cutting soil erosion and smoothing development are intimately linked. and droughts and boost climate
water flows thereby reducing For farmers it starts with being monitoring. To fund Malawi’s
sudden flooding. able to get access to improved NAPAs requires US$ 22.43 million.
seeds – faster maturing and higher To date, however, no money
Other essential adaptation
yielding - but to fulfil the potential has been forthcoming from the
measures must be to boost
of such seeds requires much more, international community that
agricultural productivity and
including training in innovative asked Malawi to develop its plan.
diversify crops. In Malawi people
farming methods – and sometimes Oxfam says the ongoing failure
say “maize is life” – “chimanga ndi
the revival of old methods. The to fund the NAPAs drawn up
moyo”. Maize is the staple crop upon
use of irrigation and compost, and by Least Developed Countries
which virtually everyone depends.
growing a wider range of crops, are is unacceptable. However, Civil
But traditional varieties no longer
particularly crucial in the south, Society Organisations in Malawi
have time to ripen before the rains
where population is high and land also say lack of donor funding must
stop – or floods rot the plants
shortages are exacerbated by the not become an excuse for inaction:
before they can be harvested. The
presence of huge tea estates. the government can and should
result has been hunger on a regular
do more even if the NAPAs remain
basis, and sometimes, the horrors But good adaptation and good
unfunded.
of starvation. development need to go further
than good farming, especially Whatever Malawi does to adapt to
Yet in spite of this, Malawi is also
for women. Women interviewed continuing climate change – and
beginning to demonstrate that
for this report see adaptation there is much it can do – it is in
with the right support, farmers can
in a holistic way. Women want the context of still-rising global
succeed and overcome some of the
better services and help to temperatures. If temperatures
limitations of both poverty and a

3
cross the threshold of an average 2 Malawi: places
mentioned in the text.
degrees Centigrade higher than in
pre-industrial times, then scientists Next page: Subsistence
maize farmer Estella
fear that the Earth’s climate will Njolo. “The weather’s
change in sudden and radical not like when I was a
child,” said Estella in
ways. It is unlikely that any society, Kunthembwe. “There’s
anywhere, will be able to adapt Karonga been a big change.
Rainfall doesn’t come
effectively to such an increase, when we expect it. It
UNITED
especially one as poor as Malawi. REPUBLIC OF
should come when
the maize is tasselling
TANZANIA
To prevent such dangerous Rumphi (growing the hairy
tufts that protrude
temperature increase Oxfam is ZAMBIA from the cob) that’s
when it needs all the
among thousands of Civil Society water. This year we’ve
Organisations campaigning for had good rains and
industrialised countries to act Mzimba Lake a good harvest, I’ll
admit. But it’s May,
urgently to massively reduce their Malawi and it’s still raining! We
greenhouse gas emissions. need sun now to dry
the harvested maize.”
Interviewed in May
However, even if the necessary MOZAMBIQUE 2007. Photo: Abbie
actions are taken to slash Trayler-Smith/Oxfam

greenhouse gas emissions, heat
that has built up in the oceans and
atmosphere means temperatures
will rise further before levelling
off. So Malawi, and other African Lilongwe
countries, will have to do more Mangochi
to adapt, both to the vicissitudes
of current climate and to future Balaka
climatic uncertainty. Good
adaptation will have a double MOZAMBIQUE Shire
benefit, in the present as well as Lake Chilwa
River
the future.
Phalombe
Blantyre
As well as the right policies,
the right support from the Thyolo
international community is
equally essential. Such support
is only right and just; Malawi’s ZIMBABWE
own greenhouse gas emissions are
miniscule compared to the gases
that the now-wealthy industrialised

4
20
20
countries have put into the Local knowledge based on first- Recommendations for civil
atmosphere to fuel their industrial hand experience of climate change society and non-governmental
revolutions, yet through no fault of and adaptation is going to be organisations:
their own it is poor countries like critical to the successful design of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs)
Malawi where the consequences community adaptation and this working in Malawi should make
of climate change will be most must be tapped. climate risk analysis an integral
damaging. part of all appraisals before
Women in Malawi bear the greatest
initiating work with communities.
Yet so far support from the burdens from climate change so it
international community, even for is crucial that their participation is CSOs and INGOs should facilitate
urgent and immediate adaptation made central to adaptation efforts. awareness and capacity-building
needs that Malawi and other Least around climate change, in their
Local sustainable environmental
Developed Countries were asked to staff, their partners, government
and natural resource management
identify, has not been sufficiently and other organisations, and in the
are essential in order to reduce
forthcoming. Oxfam is therefore communities which they serve.
vulnerability whether caused
also campaigning to see that poor
by climate change or by CSOs and international NGOs
countries receive the funds they
environmental degradation. These should work together both to
need in order to adapt and survive.
should be strengthened within strengthen community-based
The report concludes with a series adaptation and also Disaster Risk climate change adaptation and
of recommendations: Reduction programmes. disaster risk reduction and to
strengthen advocacy at national
Recommendations for People do not perceive climate
level. They need to advocate
community level: change as something separate
for government to take up its
Poor communities are the worst or additional to their lives and
responsibilities for leadership and
affected by, and least able to cope livelihoods, but intimately
co-ordination at all levels, and to
with, climate change impacts. connected. Therefore, it is
demand new, additional, sufficient
Therefore the foundation of important to ensure that initiatives
and predictable flows of adaptation
any initiative to address climate to address climate change are
finance from the countries both
change hinges on communities equally integrated with the
most responsible for today’s
being aware of the issues, owning promotion and diversification
climate impacts and most capable
the process of adaptation and of sustainable livelihoods. All
of assisting. They need to advocate
having the capacity to undertake vulnerability assessments need to
too for industrialised countries to
and maintain adaptation. At take account of projected future
drastically and urgently reduce
the same time, there must be climate hazards as well as current
their greenhouse gas emissions.
wider supportive political and variability. Likewise, adaptation
institutional frameworks. measures that address current and
future levels of climate change
should be given priority.

7
Recommendations for Max Munyariwa,
Bvumbwe, Thyolo,
government level: Southern Malawi.
The government should strengthen “My house was
destroyed last month
institutional mechanisms for more (early March 2009).
effective co-ordination of climate There was a very
strong wind that night,
change adaptation and Disaster and fog. My house had
Risk Reduction programmes. The a grass roof so it was
just blown off and the
government should establish house fell down.
budgetary allocations to finance the
“Wind and rain here is
NAPA projects and further climate not a new thing. The
change initiatives. To be successful, wind starts coming
from November to
all these efforts must involve poor January. The strongest
communities and civil society. wind usually blows
from southeast to
The government should northwest and normally
it comes during the
strengthen linkages between the rainy season. But the
Environmental Affairs department wind now blows in
different directs. It’s
and the Department of Disaster changing. I’ve noticed
Management Affairs. This should that the wind and rain
here is getting more
include developing a methodology severe. It’s causing
for harmonised vulnerability and us problems in two
ways: it destroys our
adaptation assessment. houses and our crops.
When the maize has
Agriculture and related activities reached maturity, if it
is waterlogged it falls
should get priority in climate over and rots.
related research. Government
“We have had good
needs to strengthen the capacity rain here this year and
Government should strengthen the current round of crucial
of the Meteorological Department we have just finished
to improve both long-term climate formal and informal education intergovernmental negotiations harvesting maize but
towards a post-2012 regime, the the next village (1 mile
modelling and regular, short- about climate change and work away) hasn’t started
term weather forecasting and with CSOs to raise public awareness. government should immediately yet because the rains

dissemination in order to give farmers strengthen its investment in are late.” Photo: Abbie
Based upon the foundation of capacity-building its national
Trayler-Smith/Oxfam
the information that they need. dialogue and discussion with its delegation and diplomatic corps
Government should prioritise citizens, the government of Malawi to join with other Southern
energy efficient stoves and should proactively participate governments to press for emissions
other technologies for cooking in international conferences reductions and new mechanisms
and discourage the continued and discussions to highlight to ensure flows of new, additional,
production of charcoal, and help the injustice of climate change sufficient and predictable finance
poor and vulnerable communities and the plight of poor countries for adaptation in poor countries
to find alternative livelihoods. and communities. In view of and communities.

8
The climate of Malawi, past present and future Malawi’s climate
is naturally variable, in large measure due to its topography. Both
temperatures and rainfall vary considerably depending on altitude and
other factors.

Top: Fanny Nyasulu,
51, who comes from
Climate, past and present The The wide variations in climate,
Ntchenachena in the country runs in a thin strip 840 including so many micro-climates
Rumphi district of kms long from north to south and due to the variety of terrain, mean
northern Malawi.
the terrain varies from barely 37 that it is hard to generalise about
Below: Carolyn metres (100 feet) above sea level trends. Nevertheless, there have
Malema, a farmer
and chairlady of the in the lower Shire Valley in the been significant changes observed,
women’s forum in south to mountain ranges some notably in temperature:
Karonga.
3000 metres (6000 feet) high in
• Observed mean annual
the east. Furthermore, about 15%
temperature has increased by 0.9°C
of Malawi’s area consists of Lake
between 1960 and 2006, an average
Malawi, nearly 600 kms long,
rate of 0.21°C per decade. This
which itself affects the climate.
increase in temperature has been
In the south the wet season most rapid in summer (December
normally lasts from November to February or DJF) and slowest in
to February but rain continues September to November (SON).
through March and into April in
• Daily temperature observations
the north. Inter-annual variability
show significantly increasing
in wet season rainfall is also
trends in the frequency of hot days1
strongly influenced by global
and nights in all seasons.
ocean sea surface temperatures,
particularly the El Nino Southern • The frequency of cold days2
Oscillation. and nights has decreased
significantly since 1960 in all
In general, the seasons are divided
seasons except SON.
into the cool (May to mid-August);
the hot (mid-August to November);
the rainy (November to April); and
the post-rainy (April-May). Maize is
planted when the rains come and
harvested in March and April.

9
J ulius Nkatachi from Tsite village “Previously the month of June was Future climate What does climate
near Phalula in Balaka is 70 years cold but nowadays people don’t change mean for the future? If no
old, and he has very definite views even wear warm clothing in June concerted action is taken to reduce
on how the climate has changed. because it is warm. There is also a emissions of greenhouse gases,
He says: “Originally there were very rise in mosquitoes. We never used to scientists say;
distinct seasons and we were very sure be bothered by mosquitoes in June Temperature5
when things would happen. Now the previously but these days mosquitoes • The mean annual temperature is
seasons are not distinct, especially the hot bite us all year round and incidences projected to increase by 1.1 to 3.0°C
and cold seasons. May to July was the dry of malaria have risen.” by the 2060s, and 1.5 to 5.0°C by
and cold season, July and August a bit the 2090s.
warmer and September to October Long-term rainfall trends are
was very hot. Originally in March and harder to spot and “few trends at • All
projections indicate substantial
April when you were harvesting it was individual (meteorological) stations are increases in the frequency of days
evident that the cold season was coming. statistically significant” 3. and nights that are considered ‘hot’.
From the end of April it was cold through • All
projections indicate decreases
However, trends are observable
to July. Now it’s only cold for a few days”. in the frequency of days and nights
across southern Africa when
Fanny Nyasulu, 51, who comes numerous stations are observed. that are considered ‘cold’. These
from Ntchenachena in Rumphi And science tends to confirm events are expected to become
district in northern Malawi, has what people say - that the rains exceedingly rare.
similar experiences. She says: are arriving later than before, and Precipitation6
“Previously the cold season would set in are more erratic: as a result, the • Projections
of mean rainfall do not
by mid April and would last until early growing season is shorter: the dry indicate substantial changes in
August. It used to be extremely cold here. season lasts longer than before, and annual rainfall taken as a whole.
Trees were dying because of cold. If you when the rains come, they tend to However….
left a metal pot outside during the night, be heavier. • Overall,
the models consistently
you would find it covered by ice in the
morning. This is not the case now. These One large-scale scientific study project increases in the proportion
days you can actually count the number concludes: “Regionally averaged of rainfall that falls in “heavy
of cold days in a year and they would dry spell length, average rainfall events”.
not be more than five.” intensity and annual 1-day maximum A recent scientific study finds that
rainfall all show statistically there is a 90% chance that by the
Karonga district has always been
significant increasing trends…. end of this century, the coolest
warmer relative to Ntchenachena
there is an indication of decreasing temperatures in the tropics during
as it lies on the lakeshore, but the
total precipitation, accompanied by the crop-growing season will
story is similar there.
increased average rainfall intensity…. exceed the hottest temperatures
Carolyn Malema, a farmer and [that] suggests that increased average recorded between 1900 and 2006.
chairlady of the women’s forum in intensity is concentrated on extreme This would likely cut yields of
Karonga said: precipitation days” 4. maize and rice by 20-40% 7.

10
The reservoir which
feeds the extensive
irrigation channels
at Mnembo, Mulanje.
The Oxfam-funded
irrigation system has
enabled 400 farming
families to become
completely self
sufficient, cultivating
different crops all year
round and protecting
them from food
shortages and the
negative affects of
climate change.
Photo: Abbie Trayler-
Smith/Oxfam
Climate change, poverty and vulnerability
Such changes would spell catastrophe for farmers
for whom any climate shock can be a disaster.
Malawi is one of the poorest countries in Africa.

According to the Malawi and population pressures on a limited
Government’s National Adaptation land resource base, low economic
Programmes of Action against productivity of the land, labour and
climate change (the NAPA, which capital, and extreme weather events
will be discussed later) some 29% due to climate variability, and low
of people live in extreme poverty. capacity to adapt to the adverse impacts
Infant mortality is estimated at of climate change. These have been
134 per thousand compared with compounded by rapid environmental
92 per thousand for sub-Saharan degradation as a result of agricultural
Africa. The latest (June 2008) census expansion to marginal lands and
numbered the total population at deforestation, inadequate knowledge
13.1 million, up by more than a and skills in the productive use and
quarter in the last decade despite management of land and natural
the impact of HIV and AIDS. resources, inadequate access to land and
However, figures for life expectancy credit, poor health services and gender
at birth appear unreliable, given inequalities”.
that they vary widely depending on
the source, from about 37 years to The NAPA sums up likely impacts
47 years or more8. More than 90% as follows:
of the population is predominantly Agriculture Malawi relies on
engaged in subsistence-level rain- rain-fed agriculture, and the
fed agriculture, and 60% of these most recent droughts have
are food insecure on a year-round resulted in poor crop yields or
basis. The census showed that 45% total crop failure, leading to
of the population lives in the south serious food shortages, hunger
and 42% in the centre, with only
and malnutrition. Flooding has
13% living in the north.
also severely disrupted food
The NAPA says: “Female- and children- production in several districts.
headed households, the elderly and The most vulnerable groups are
women are the most vulnerable [to rural communities, especially
climate change], a situation that has women, children, female-headed
been exacerbated by increasing poverty households and the elderly.

12
Human health Human health Forestry The major climatic Fisheries Droughts and floods
is directly affected by climate hazards that threaten the forestry are the major climatic hazards
change, and is especially linked to sector are extended droughts, which affecting the fisheries sector, and
infant malnutrition and chronic lead to land degradation and loss of have been responsible for the
ailments associated with malaria, soil fertility, as well as forest fires. declining, or even drying up, of
cholera and diarrhoea as a result of water bodies resulting in low fish
Energy The country’s energy is
droughts and floods. For example, production and loss of biodiversity.
mainly hydroelectricity from the
malaria is expected to increase and Floods have been responsible for
Shire River. The droughts and
spread to previous cool zones as the destruction of fish ponds,
floods have negatively affected
temperatures increase due to global such as in 2000/01, while droughts
hydroelectric power generation.
warming. have been responsible for the
The water flow disruptions in
regular drying of shallow lakes
Water Water is a critical resource rivers have also been exacerbated
such as Lake Chilwa, which dried
for human and industrial use, and by siltation caused by poor
completely in 1995, although it has
for the maintenance of ecosystems. and unsustainable agricultural
since recovered.
Increasing droughts and floods practices, deforestation, and
seriously disrupt water availability, noxious weeds, such as water Gender Women’s activities are
in both quantity and quality. hyacinth. most impacted by an adverse
climate, including the collection
A hydroelectric of water, firewood and ensuring
dam seen from the daily access to food. In addition, the
Kapichira Falls, Shire
river, Malawi. The changing demographics as a result
country’s energy supply of the impacts of the HIV and AIDS
is derived mainly
from hydroelectricity.
epidemic, are leading to women
However, the droughts taking up greater responsibilities
and floods have
negatively affected
as sole heads of households and
hydroelectric power taking care of the sick and orphans.
generation.
Photo: Jerry Kent

13
Changes to the winds and rains: what people say In different places
people have come to depend on different wind regimes, according to
which wind is prevalent and useful for particular crops.
Left: Enless Nakhuba,
65, from Thomasi
village in Thyolo, and
middle, her neigbour
Peter Chapasi, 76.
Right: Peter Shonga,
59, from the Mzimba
district.

As observed earlier, even villages a in Thyolo, immediately says: “The directions now, resulting in bad yields.
few miles apart may have subtly, air circulation is different from in the We expect rains and they don’t come, or
or even quite markedly, different past. It has affected our crop production we get heavy rains which only destroy
climatic regimes. Terrain, altitude, and even the houses where we live. and don’t help our crop production”.
the presence of mountains and Heavy winds blow away our houses. The “deadliest” wind, the villagers
rain-shadows, the presence of water These heavy winds come from different here agree, is the east wind.
and so on all affect wind and rain directions at the same time”.
patterns. Wilson Chiphale, aged 86, from
Her neighbour Peter Chapasi, aged Bruce village in Balaka, says: “The
Nevertheless, farmers consistently 76, agrees. He says: “If the pressure of rains for this area used to come from
report broadly similar phenomena; air comes from the south or the north the south or the north and that meant
that whichever winds they we experience good rains but if from the better harvests, but when the rains
depended upon have changed and east or west they are bad. In the past come from the west those rains are not
the familiar pattern of the seasons we got very good winds from the north so good. I have noticed that the rains
seems to be disrupted.
and by 10 October people were doing no longer have a particular pattern.
Asked what changes she has seen in the planting and we got high yields. But Sometimes they come early when people
the climate in her lifetime, Enless at this time we don’t have winds from have not prepared, sometimes they end
Nakhuba, 65, from Thomasi village the right direction, they come from all too soon and maize wilts, sometimes we

14
Village Headman, strong winds are indeed causing
Ebbie Mwakasungula,
Karonga. increasing damage to property, and
he observes that whereas previous
incidences of winds blowing roofs
off normally occurred at the
beginning of the rainy season as
the weather systems established
themselves, “of late winds blow
off roofs even in the middle of the
season”. And he observes too how
the frequency of floods that are
associated with heavy, thundery
downpours has also increased.
However, he is cautious about
saying that there has been any
change either in the wind regime
or in the occurrence of heavy
experience very, very heavy rains that be heavy and tend to destroy a lot of downpours. Rather, he ascribes
last for up to four days, which washes property. These days this pattern is no the more devastating impacts
away all the nutrients”. longer predictable and rains come from witnessed to the fact that the
all the directions.” number of trees has decreased,
In northern Malawi people have
noticed similar changes. In Mzimba In Karonga, on the other hand, because trees act as windbreaks.
district Peter Shonga, 59, says: the east rains are favoured and Data showing possible wind
“Previously the rain used to come from held to be good for maize and changes is uncertain; however,
here [pointing at the north] or here rice. However, according to Village regular meteorological data is
[pointing at the south] and we would Headman Ebbie Mwakasungula, it inadequate and patchy across most
know that such rain was good for our is increasingly rare to experience of Africa. Furthermore, climate in
crops. These days it comes from all the easterly rains: “Previously the rain Malawi has always been erratic,
directions, often heavy and destructive used to come from the east but these especially in the contrast between
and goes away before the crops are ready.” days when the rain forms in the east, “normal” years and El Nino
strong winds from the west often crush years. But if what people on the
In Ntchenachena, Rumphi, Estere
them.”
Mhango says: “Originally the first rains ground are observing and stating
would come from the west and when The perceptions of people – is indeed the case, it indicates
that happens we would know that we consistent across the country that climatic systems are already
would harvest enough. Such rain would – are intriguing. Asked for his changing in ways consistent with
occasionally stop for a few days and expert opinion Gray Munthali, climate change models. This is
continue evenly throughout. When the Deputy Director of the Malawi an important area that urgently
rains came from the east, they would Meteorological Service, says requires further scientific research.

15
Climate change impacts on agriculture Scientists who have looked at
the impact of climatic trends on maize have found evidence that dry spell
lengths have been increasing, including in Malawi.

Mark Tadross, Pablo Suarez and many places where the majority of good rains, and are highly
associates9 say their work “suggests of farmers have still not harvested vulnerable to losing their crops
that changes are occurring at the enough to last much longer than when there are droughts or floods.
beginning of the season, reinforcing usual. The reasons have a lot to The effect is to shorten the growing
the evidence that the start of consistent do with poverty: lack of land; season – and introduce greater
rainfall for planting has been getting lack of income to obtain seeds uncertainty. Women interviewed
later”. and fertilisers or hire labour; the at Bwemba village in Malili
Statistically these are weak trends, prevalence of HIV and AIDS, lack Traditional Authority (TA) on the
but for the farmers who depend on of strength and the need to look outskirts of Lilongwe say that
rain at the right time and steady after orphans; all these and other in previous years they would be
rain throughout the growing factors combine to mean that many weeding their growing crops at
season, seemingly small changes farmers cannot take full advantage around Christmas time, but now
can easily spell the difference
between a good maize harvest and
Julius Nkatachi of Tsite
a poor one – or for many, between village. He ascribes
a harvest that is barely adequate the changes to the
seasons to population
at best, and no harvest at all. increase which has
Furthermore, climatic problems resulted in widespread
interact with environmental ones, deforestation.

notably deforestation and declining
water sources, and each reinforces
the other.
For farmers who rely on maize,
especially varieties that take a full
three months to mature, these
variables create huge problems.
Even in the best of times, many
farmers only harvest enough to
feed themselves and their families
for some three to four months.
Even when harvests have been
excellent on a national level, as in
the past two years, there have been

16
Esther Chanache,
69, from Tsite, says:
“Now if you miss the
first rains it means
you’re not going to get
anything”.
they might only be planting at Kestings Sulani, Agricultural
Christmas, or even later. People Development Officer for the
in Ntchenachena used to identify Balaka Livelihoods Food Security
a clear sequence of four rainfall- Programme of the Blantyre Synod
events, starting in late September Development Commission, says:
and running through to the “Farmers cannot rely only on one crop –
beginning of August, one of which maize. If that fails then they must have
– the third - heralded the start of something to fall back on. I’ve noticed
the main rains. Each signalled the the temperatures getting higher every year
start of specific farming or other since I started work here in 2002, and how
activities. They say this pattern can where we had running water in shallow
no longer be recognised. In Bruce wells these are no longer yielding. So we
village they say that the days are can no longer rely on maize. That’s why
long gone when the elders would we promote sweet potatoes and cassava,
advise the young farmers not to because they withstand drought better.
plant when the first rains arrived,
“But it’s difficult, because people talk
but to wait until the fourth rains
only of maize. They say maize is food,
came and the ground was soft.
and food is maize. If you take maize,
Esther Chanache, 69, from Tsite, you say you have eaten, and if you take
says: “Now if you miss the first rains it something else you say you haven’t
means you’re not going to get anything”. eaten. So we have to change this mindset
and that’s what we are aiming to do
Wyson Timeyo Kaunda, 69, who
in the 87 villages where BSDC works.
is the headman for Embisi village
We could do more, but finance is the
in M’mbelwa TA in Mzimba says
limiting factor – irrigation, particularly,
unpredictable rains have led to
is a big investment”.
perpetual food insecurity in his
area: “Previously we were cultivating Commercial crops are affected too.
local maize varieties which did not Isaac Mwaungulu is the Agricultural
require fertilisers and pesticides but now Extension Development Coordinator
we are advised to plant early yielding for Ntchenachena Extension
hybrid varieties which are expensive Planning Area (EPA) in Rumphi
to manage as they need fertilisers and and he attests to this: “This place
pesticides. But even with the hybrid was originally producing a lot of coffee
varieties, we are not yielding enough because it was experiencing cold weather
because the rains stop early before the almost all year round, which was good
crops mature.” for coffee production. This area was

18
Left: Kestings But they complain that their
Sulani, Agricultural
Development Officer plantain trees are dying, and
for the Balaka the pasture is drying up. Monica
Livelihoods Food
Security Programme Mhango, the chairperson for the
of the Blantyre Coalition Of Women Farmers in
Synod Development
Commission. Right: Karonga, says: “People have now
Wyson Timeyo Kaunda, resorted to tethering their animals at
69, who is the headman
for Embisi village
every available pasture, even along
in M’mbelwa TA in the main road so that they can graze.
Mzimba. Bottom left:
Isaac Mwaungulu
Previously we would employ herd boys
is the Agricultural to feed our animals in pasturelands
Extension Development
but the pasturelands are dry most of
Coordinator for
Ntchenachena the time. There are also increasing
Extension Planning incidences of livestock deaths due to
Area (EPA) in Rumphi.
Bottom right: With strange diseases.”
available grazing
pasture in short One result has been a significant
supply, animals are
now tethered at every
change in the local diet. Only a
available pasture, even few people in Karonga now enjoy
along the main road so
that they can graze.
the traditional dish “mbalagha”
that was made of boiled plantains
and beef.
For women, the impacts are
particularly severe. For example,
Esther Chanache from Tsite village
says: “We women have largely been
affected in terms of fetching water.
Previously the rivers would run all
year round but now when the rains
stop the rivers dry up. We have to walk
long distances.
unsuitable for tobacco but these days the last decade to between 50 and 60
coffee plants are dying and people have MT in recent years. “Fortunately for us the government
installed a borehole. One side of the
now started growing tobacco, which in
In Karonga district in northern- village goes one and a half kilometres
itself is evidence of climate change.”
most Malawi, on the border with to get to it, from the other side people
Mr. Mwaungulu says records in his Tanzania, villagers are heavily walk two and a half kilometres – that’s
office show that coffee production influenced by East African one way. But that borehole covers a big
in the area has fallen from 400 MT traditions, notably cultivating area and many people so we have to
per annum at the beginning of the plantains and keeping beef cattle. queue a long time”.

19
Droughts and deforestation: the experiences of one community
Communities throughout Malawi ascribe changes to their climate, and
especially increasing drought, to deforestation, and that is why there is a
massive push to plant trees as a remedy.
In community after community tree atmosphere to compensate for that. Africa. What relatively few carbon
nurseries are springing up, local Ultimately, the root cause of climate emissions Malawi emits come
governance on cutting trees is being change is only likely to be resolved primarily from this burning of trees
tightened up and when asked what through international action to stop as fuel. But the burning of trees is, as
should be done and what extra help emissions. in many poor societies, key to
do they want, people invariably livelihoods – often the difference
Unfortunately, total forest cover in
answer: “Plant more trees to protect the between eating and not eating.
Malawi declined by nearly 13%
environment!”.
between 1990 and 2005 and Malawi Mr Nkatachi of Tsite village, after
But as one village woman asked has an annual deforestation rate of describing the changes in the
Oxfam researchers, “if we plant all 2.8%, one of the highest in southern seasons mentioned above, goes on:
these trees, will that solve the problem?”.
The answer is yes and no at the same
Cecilia Friday,
time. Planting trees in Malawi will Ndombole Village
not solve the global problem, but as Development
Committee
part of a suite of adaptation practices, Chairperson, with tree
it will certainly help people to cope saplings.

with climate change up to a point.
Increasing tree cover is likely to soak
up ground water and smooth water
flows, thus reducing sudden flooding
and reducing soil erosion. And
planting trees can also have directly
beneficial impacts on climate at a
local level, by shading the immediate
vicinity, reducing evaporation from
the soil, acting as wind breaks, and
increasing access to fruits and timber.
But the principal cause of climate
change is greenhouse gas emissions
from industrialised countries, and no
amount of tree planting in Malawi
will soak up enough carbon from the

20
Kalongonda beans
at different stages
of preparation.
Kalongonda beans
can withstand severe
drought situations
and can improve soil
fertility. However,
these beans are
poisonous and if not
prepared correctly can
kill. They need to be
cooked all day with at
least seven changes
of water - using
precious water and
firewood. Other famine
foods threatened
by climate change
and environmental
pressures include
Matano (a wild fruit
chewed like gum),
Chenje (a bitter berry),
Tsukamano (a semi-
sweet berry), Bwemba
(a very sour, acidic fruit,
crushed and mixed
with ash to neutralise
the acid), Mphunga (a
grass seed that makes
a tasteless porridge),
Chitembe (a sour
fruit that is pounded
into a flour) and the
Mpinjipinji (a sour fruit).
Photo credit: Jane
Beesley/Oxfam

20
“We blame these changes on the easy distance. Most were however,
population increase. This area used to be unpalatable and required special
thick forest, now it’s been cleared. Almost cooking, but sustained life in hard
every piece of land has been settled on and times. Alice Kamowa, who was born
people have cut trees wantonly. The River around 1936, says: “I cannot get wild
Lisongwe used to be wet all year round fruits anymore because there are no trees
because trees surrounded it. People have so now I must wait for my children to give
cut them, the soil is being eroded and we me food. Even the grass we could once
can’t grow crops in the dry season because eat in an emergency does not grow here
we can’t get water from the river”. anymore because there is not enough rain”.
But Mr Nkatachi and millions of The main reason for deforestation
people like him are in a trap. The very is to make charcoal. The impacts
reduction in water levels, and the lack have been tremendous and
of any formal employment or other relatively sudden. In 1981 wild fruit
alternative, means that he too – he and berries were available just a
admits - has to cut down trees to sell few minutes walk away. Today the
as firewood or to make charcoal. forest is seven hours away, well
In Kaliyati village outside Blantyre beyond the Shire River. Now, the
a group of elderly women and men village Headman who owns all
described the fruits and berries the land surrounding Kaliyati has
that used to be plentiful and within placed a ban on tree cutting there.

Drought in Walking distance to Coping Strategy
Kaliyati village forest
c.1900 Few minutes Wild fruit and berries
1922 Few minutes Wild fruit and berries
1949 Few minutes Wild fruit and berries
1981 Five to ten minutes Wild fruit and berries
1992 One hour Aloe Flowers
2002 Two Hours Selling Charcoal
2006 Four Hours Selling Charcoal
2008 Seven Hours Selling Charcoal

22
The need for charcoal Journalist Alex Renton visited Malawi
for Oxfam in June 2007 and reported the following encounter:

“The charcoal-selling trade around the town of Blantyre, where most natural forest has gone, is one
of the most visible illustrations of the problems. It is illegal to cut down trees in the parks around
the town, and in the forest reserves outside it. Yet fuel is crucial – winters are chilly here and food
must be cooked every day.

“One day we saw an extraordinary sight. Coming down the dust track out of the heat-blurred
distance we saw bicycles piled impossibly high with bundles. As they got closer we saw that each
one was pushed by a man almost bent double to get the load up the hill. They stopped for a moment
and told us how they’d been pushing the bikes for two days, all the way from the forest of Mwanza,
40 miles away on the Mozambique border.

“That’s the only forest that’s left and that’s safe for us. People cut down trees there, and make them into
charcoal – we buy this load for 600 kwacha (£2) and we sell it in Blantyre for 1900 [£6.30 – the prices are
as recorded in June 2007],” said one of the men. Down his face rivulets of sweat cut through the charcoal
dust on his face. “It’s hard work, but there’s no other jobs. And I have a family to feed in Blantyre.” As
they talked they kept glancing up and down the road. If the police stop them, their bicycles and loads
will be confiscated and they will be jailed for a week. It’s a weary way to make a living”.

Charcoal sellers have walked 60km to buy the charcoal to sell at the market in Blantyre. There is so much deforestation in the area
that traders are having to travel further to find wood. Photo: Abbie Trayler-Smith/Oxfam
Climate change impacts on fisheries: what people say Few people
know as much about Lake Malawi as Lincoln W Singini. He has been
fascinated by the geography and ecology of the lake for many years and is
a foremost expert on its fisheries.

He has studied records of both If conservation measures are not He explains that climatic influences
climate and of catches going back taken seriously, he says, then there on the lake are to do primarily
decades. Since 2003 he has been is little hope. with the wind, secondly the rain,
General Manager of Maldeco and thirdly the temperature. The
Fisheries, the biggest commercial Lake Malawi is almost an inland
wind in particular is important
fishing operation on the lake, based sea, so big that it influences the
because it creates the speed and
out of the port of Mangochi. climate of the entire nation. It is
direction of the waves and the
the home of a vast number of fish
But he stresses that he is speaking species, many of them important currents and hence the movements
in his personal capacity as an sources of food, especially of of shoals of fish.
expert on the lake’s ecology protein. But catches have been Winds affect the currents and as
when he gives his view that he steadily declining. The total catch fish swim against the prevailing
is pessimistic about the entire in the 1990s was some 80,000 current, fishermen can track the
future for fishing in Lake Malawi. metric tonnes. Now it is 60-65,000 movement of shoals. The local
MT per annum, of which artisanal fishermen cherish the north winds,
Lincoln W Singini, fishermen catch the great bulk. which are stormy but short-lived.
General Manager of
Maldeco Fisheries. The most dramatic decline, and Southeasterly winds are much the
symptomatic of the problems best for the commercial fleet. Local
affecting the lake’s fisheries as a fishermen do not do well when the
whole, has been in the “chambo”, southeasterly winds blow, and the
the best eating fish. In 1993 east winds are not good for them
commercial trawlers caught 2000 either, although big fishing vessels
MT of chambo. In 2003 they caught can cope. The west winds are
200MT – one tenth of that. And the worst: no good for either the
now the commercial catch is not artesanal or commercial fishermen.
much more than half that.
Mr Singini says: “In recent years we
Mr Singini sees deforestation, the have noticed that the winds are not
destruction of lakeshore reed beds blowing at the times we expect them to
and over-fishing acting together blow, and they are inconsistent. Now we
with rising temperatures to affect get fewer northerly winds and more east
the catch. and west winds, strong and for quite

25
Martin Chiumia, from
the village of Msaka,
next to the fish racks,
where the usipa are laid
out to dry.
defined periods, and these are the types present, and the rains are getting must fish to sell to buy maize.
of winds we don’t like for fishing at all. erratic and we are getting less overall, When the catch is bad they go
And when there is a mix of west and east maybe 10-15% less”. This is important hungry.
winds that means no defined currents because less rain means less mixing
and in this case, the fish are in the So is it not possible for the
of the lake waters and fewer
doldrums, they go to the shore or they go nutrients are brought up that serve community to voluntarily reduce
to the bottom and we can’t catch them.” as food for fish – resulting in fewer the number of boats on the lake?
fish to catch. Martin sadly says no. “It cannot
Local artisanal fishermen back up happen. Whoever has a boat has his own
these observations. In the village The final influence on the lake’s needs to satisfy. No-one has control over
of Msaka Martin Chiumia and his fisheries is the temperature. the lake”.
friend Isaac Kaunda have brought Temperatures are much higher
in a good catch of usipa, a small than they used to be. As a result, Mr Singini’s has three suggestions
fish like whitebait. Great silver lake levels drop more quickly to solve the crisis. Firstly, enforce
swathes of usipa are drying in the through evaporation. fishing regulations to allow the fish
sun on raised woven mats, their to breed, which must also mean
At the same time the lake is finding alternative livelihoods for
pungent odour filling the air. The
being depleted by over-fishing,
day’s fishing is over and hordes of fishing communities for at least
and particularly, says Mr Singini,
children are in the water, jumping parts of the year. Second, stop
fishing by local fishermen in Area
off the boats, being hauled back deforestation. And third, be serious
A. This is the breeding area that
aboard and jumping off again with about conservation. In particular,
is supposed to be permanently
delighted screams. It is a happy he wants to see the reed beds and
closed, but he says there is a lack of
scene but Martin and Isaac are wetlands around the lakeshores
capacity to enforce the regulations.
worried about the future. preserved and restored. These are
In Msaka Martin Chiumia says: “We crucial areas for young fish to hide,
They say the last really consistently
catch much less fish now. We used to to feed and to breed.
good winds were in 2005. For the
catch them close to the shore, now we
last 10 or more years the winds But the spread of tourist villas
have to go into deeper water and use
have been oddly erratic. means the reed beds continue to
a lot of fuel and what we get doesn’t
Martin says: “Previously the winds always pay for the cost. The reason is the be removed, hence his pessimism
were predictable, we would know them. rising number of boats. Lots of settlers about the future. Aquaculture, he
But these years, they are unpredictable. have moved in from elsewhere and over says, will not be able to fill the gap
The south-east wind in particular, would time their children have been born, if fish populations crash, “and it will
only come in the cold months from June and there are no alternative sources of not solve the problem of poverty”.
or July to August but now it blows even income”. To cultivate chambo in cages in the
in October or even in February”.
Isaac – who himself came from lake is an expensive business and
Then there is the rainfall. Mr northern Malawi - agrees; he says will inevitably be reflected in the
Singini says: “I looked at all the less than a third of the fishing sale price, so poor people will not
numbers from a decade ago to the community have gardens so most be able to afford the farmed fish.

27
Floods: the counterpart to drought While farmers speak of drought
caused by rising temperatures and longer hot, dry spells, they also face
the opposite threat – an increasing number of floods.

According to a report by ActionAid10, rain over the lake, and higher and mainly along the river banks. These
the number of districts affected evaporation rates. Why is this? days floods affect even villages and
by flooding, and the numbers occur anytime during the rainy season.
Mr Singini’s explanation illustrates
of people affected, has steadily Previously people would relocate to
the interaction of climatic shocks
increased. Before 2001 only nine higher grounds during the rainy season
districts were classified as flood- with the pressures on Malawi’s
to avoid floods but these days even
prone. In 2001, 16 were affected, environment. He says: “The first
people settled in areas considered higher
and a further 14 in 2002. By the reason is that the hills around the lake
ground are also affected by floods.”
end of January 2003 there was are bare and the trees have been cut, so
Increased flooding in the centre
localised flooding in 22 districts. the water rushes into the lake suddenly and north of the country may be
and the lake fills up rapidly and fills the the result of more intense rainfall
Floods have always occurred in floodplain of the Shire river. as well as of deforestation.
the south of Malawi along the
Shire River and its tributaries and “The second reason is that the previously
in districts such as Nsanje where weedy and reedy areas all around the
ActionAid conducted its interviews lake shore have been cut down for lakeside Isaac Kaunda, a local

with the likes of Lemisoni developments for tourism. Those reeds artisanal fisherman in
the village of Msaka.
Ambulesi, aged 70, who had a close used to hold the water coming off the
encounter with death in the floods hills but no longer. The balance of water
of January 2006: “The floods of over in and water out has been thrown out”.
knee height carried me for about 900 This explanation may well hold
metres. I am lucky to be alive and I can true for the Shire valley but it
say that the floods in recent years have cannot necessarily account for the
increased in frequency and intensity as increase in floods in other parts
compared to when I was a young man”. of Malawi. People in Karonga in
Floods like these wreck farmer’s the north say that areas that were
crops and livelihoods.
not normally flood prone are
The paradox, however, is that floods now being submerged in water
in the Shire valley that drains from when the rains are heavy. Village
the southern end of Lake Malawi Headman Ebbie Mwakasungula
have become more frequent and says this has led to increases in
more persistent over the last decade, cholera. He says: “Previously water
yet according to Mr Singini’s would flood mainly at the peak of the
observations there has been less rainfall season from February onwards

28
Climate change connections to HIV and AIDS It is estimated that
somewhere between 800,000 and one million people in Malawi are living
with HIV. There were about 70,000 AIDS – related deaths in 2007.

An estimated 20,000 children is exceptional, because Bwemba is Yet the nutritional requirements of
are born each year with HIV, and near the city and has many bars. people living with HIV and AIDS are
some half a million children are However, similar transactions take higher: up to 15% greater for protein
orphans due to HIV and AIDS11. HIV place elsewhere – and not only and 50% greater for energy according
and AIDS are having a debilitating because of poverty. The abuse of to a study by Pablo Suarez12.
effect on Malawi society, and women and girls by men and boys,
the disease is connected to both often men and boys in positions On a national level HIV weakens
climatic shocks and to poverty in of authority, is unfortunately the ability to implement
insidious but direct ways. common. progressive programmes intended
to improve human wellbeing –
In mid - 2008, Anna Taylor of the Jacqueline Ng’ambi is a Project including combating HIV and AIDS.
Stockholm Environment Institute, Assistant for the Maphunziro It is a vicious circle. For example, a
interviewed women in Bwemba Foundation that works on HIV. She new Oxfam report13 points out that
village on the outskirts of Lilongwe. explains: “Girls are forced sometimes 25-30% of health professionals will
They explained that they only do to marry younger than 14. Some are die of AIDS in the next decade.
rainfed agriculture as the plots impregnated by schoolteachers, some are
they rent are often quite far away forced to get married so the in-laws will Suarez points out14 how HIV poses
and because of this and lack of bring bread and butter to their homes, a major challenge to institutions
equipment, they do not utilise others marry because of peer pressure. that must deal with climate change
irrigation. Poor rains lead directly Especially when harvests are not good, adaptation. “Institutions dealing with
to poor nutrition and to lack of these problems arise as girls [are used to] disaster preparedness and response
income. In these circumstances generate income”. in Southern Africa are facing two
men will often leave the house enormous challenges: climate change,
These actions feed the growth in
and only come back when there HIV and AIDS. The spread of HIV in and HIV and AIDS. A changing climate
is food there again. Women may turn leads to further poverty and is expected to increase the risk of
well have little option but to resort greater need to resort to desperate disasters and consequently the demand
to prostitution in order to get measures: many women are left for services that those institutions
income to feed their children. In looking after large numbers of provide. Yet the HIV and AIDS pandemic
Bwemba, the women estimate that AIDS orphans; HIV-positive people may be profoundly eroding the ability
in between five and seven out of are not strong enough to cultivate of institutions to meet such demand.
every 10 households the woman their land effectively, still less Indeed, the disease is having devastating
might resort to selling sex for construct contour ridges and such effects on the social and institutional
food during the critical months of like to improve it, so that their fabric of the region. From planning
December to February. Such a ratio land becomes increasingly infertile. processes in central government to

29
Mary Sande on a small
plot of land she has
started to prepare.
Chikwawa in the Lower
Shire in Southern
Malawi is an area at
risk from drought and
floods. Most of the
people in this district
have experienced poor
harvests because of a
lack of rain, a situation
also made worse by
the impact on families
of HIV and AIDS. Many
children are not able to
continue with school
because cash crop
failure and sickness
prevents families from
finding water and food
easily, causing them to
have to walk for long
distances to find it.
Photo: Jane Beesley/
Oxfam, 2005.

agricultural extension programs at Women in Bwemba say answers will ultimately come
village level, a multiplicity of tasks may “adaptation” should include through the education and
not be completed appropriately because help caring for orphans. Then empowerment of girls and women
of death, disease-related absenteeism, they would have more time and to become assertive “so that when
increases in workload, low morale, energy to cultivate their gardens boys or men propose to them they know
loss of institutional memory and other and implement soil and water how to say no in a concrete way – no
undesirable mechanisms that weaken conservation. To Jacqueline of means no”.
institutional capacity”. the Maphunziro Foundation, the

30
Fred Kabambe stands
beside his crop of
maize – eight feet tall
– and he has already
harvested three bags.
Adapting to climate change: farmers see a more sustainable future
Fred Kabambe is a happy man. At a time of year – it is Christmas – when
most farmers have not long planted their maize, his plants are already
an astonishing eight feet tall - and he has already harvested three bags.

Fred’s new-found ability to grow such a way that they fulfil their moisture during dry times but also
more maize seems phenomenal; potential. One change is that he is drains well when the rains come.
in previous years he says he only making proper compost manure.
Fred says his eight bags last year
harvested one bag – and in some He takes the old maize stalks,
earned him enough income to put
years only half a bag. Last year, he chops them finely and puts them
a tin roof on his house and this
harvested no less than eight bags in a pit with soil and dung from
year he aims to finish the building
of maize and this year, even if the the goats that he also received from
work. His wife and children are, he
rains prove to be not so good, he CARD. He mixes it all with water, says, very happy and he says: “Now
expects to beat that. On top of and in three months the manure is more people are following these methods.
his three bags already full he says ready and can be used. I feel very great!”.
he will get a second harvest in
The second technique is even Nor is this all, because a portion
January, and then a third at the
simpler, but it turns the entire way of Fred’s seeds will go into a newly
main harvest in April.
that farmers generally do things built grain bank, along with seeds
He is growing an improved upside down. Instead of planting from fellow farmers who have
variety of maize, but the secret the maize on the ridges as almost joined the same scheme. Next year
of his success is not based on everyone else does, he plants in the these seeds will be distributed
that alone. Rather, it is by doing furrows. This conserves moisture to other people in Thomasi, the
a combination of things which, during droughts. He planted his village where Fred lives in Thyolo.
when implemented together, first seeds on 1st September, three
could drastically reduce the fear months before the rains, and Such techniques are particularly
of hunger from climate shocks for watered them every day until he important in places like Thyolo
farmers like himself. harvested three bags. An argument where not only is population high
advanced for planting on ridges is but land shortages are exacerbated
Fred, aged 28, says: “I established by the existence of huge tea estates.
that the seedlings and young plants
this garden because of climate change The tea estates provide much
cannot become waterlogged if
problems. Now I can have food employment and export earnings
there are heavy rains, so in solving
throughout the year and a source of for the nation, but they also occupy
one problem, is Fred’s planting
income too”. large areas of fertile land.
in the furrows only making him
He obtained the early maturing, vulnerable to another? Fred says Fred is not the only pioneering
high-yielding maize seeds from no; he says that by the application farmer in the village either. His
Churches Action on Relief and of plenty of his homemade parents Moson and Annie have set
Development (CARD). But his compost manure, the soil structure up one of numerous tree nurseries
success is in growing the seeds in is improved so that it retains in Thomasi and the villagers have

32
Top left: A portion practice before planting on ridges
of Fred Kabambe’s
seeds will go into a was heavily promoted. According
newly built grain bank. to Khumbo Kananga of the
Right: Moson and
Annie with their tree organisation CURE - Coordination
seedlings. Bottom left: Union for the Rehabilitation of
TA Kapiche, whose
community is farming the Environment -, maize grown
fish. Right: Estella Saka in furrows – and with compost -
proudly displays the
message on her T-shirt. survives two to three weeks longer
than maize planted on ridges in
drought conditions. The secret of
success though is not in any one
technique but in the combination.
In other villages people are building
small dams to hold irrigation water,
creating fishponds, establishing
tree nurseries, learning to graft
fruit trees and diversifying from
maize into such crops as cassava,
sweet potatoes, groundnuts,
mushrooms and more.
In Ndombole village in Thyolo,
meantime, Estella Saka, a project
assistant with CARD, is addressing
a group of villagers who are proud
of the tree nursery they have
established. They enumerate the
Latin names of the varieties and the
particular properties of each type
also built a large hut specially to These impressive efforts are typical of tree – the wood is especially in
grow mushrooms. of hundreds of villages across demand for building houses. Estella
Malawi. urges them to keep going. There
Previously they picked mushrooms
that sprouted in the bush after Villagers are refusing to be held is much laughter and clapping.
the rains, but they hope that hostage by a fickle climate and are For a finale, she twirls around to
cultivation will provide them keen to combine the best products show them the message on the
with the fungi all year round. of modern scientific crop breeding back of her T-shirt: “Take Part in
Mushrooms are nutritious and said and new skills with the revival of Conservation, Prevent Climate
to boost the immune systems of old techniques – planting on flat Change”. There is an enthusiastic
those living with HIV and AIDS. land, for example, was a common round of applause.

33
Another example of helping At Chisawani school, outside The stoves are an eye-opener – a
smallholders to diversify from only Blantyre 1900 children get a daily real step forward from the basic
relying on maize is in the Shire meal of porridge free. The porridge design of three stones and some
Highlands. Thomas Bwanali of is made from milk supplied by firewood used across Africa. This is
Shire Highlands Milk Producers SHMPA. The farmers get a better the Rocket Stove – manufactured
Association (SHMPA), which is an price for the milk than they might in Malawi and costing about
NGO working with Oxfam to help from a commercial dairy, and the US$200. It’s a basic enclosed stove,
small scale dairy farmers produce feeding programme helps with on which the pot of porridge sits.
and market their wares, told Alex school enrolment (children are Any biomass can be used as fuel.
Renton about his friends attitudes keen to come to school if they According to Martin Mganga, who
to climate change: know there’s a hot meal there) and helps organise the school feeding
it tackles the terrible nutrition for the agency Mary’s Meals, the
“We have a word for it – it’s” chilala”. problem in Malawi. 50% of primary stoves are amazingly efficient: “We
It means the warming of the earth. And school children are under-developed need perhaps three sticks for the fire
of course people see that changes have physically or mentally. where before we’d have used 10.” The
come; but they don’t really link them to
The porridge is cooked by World Food Programme, which
the global issue. People hear about things
volunteers, most of them the feeds some 500,000 school children
on the radio, and they have knowledge
children’s mothers, on stoves in in Malawi every day, has promised
of El Nino, but they don’t understand
the schoolyard. The children wait, to make sure all the stoves it uses
how these things are linked up. The
excited, each clutching a mug. are of similar design and efficiency.
government says that if you cut down
trees and don’t plant new ones there will
School Feeding
be a dry spell. People hear it, but if they Programmes are very
have no other source of firewood what important in Malawi:
children are keen to
can they do? come to school if they
know a hot meal awaits
I have a neighbour whose daughter was them. Photo: Abbie
Trayler-Smith/Oxfam
selected for secondary school: he needs
to find 1500 kwacha to pay the fees. He
has no money, so he cuts down a tree,
turns it into charcoal and sells it in
town. How can I tell him that’s a wrong
thing to do?”
One of the strategies to address the
expected rise in increased climate
problems is to help smallholders
diversify. Owning a dairy cow or
two is one idea – and SHMPA and
Oxfam also help find an outlet for
the milk.

34
Malawi’s record maize harvests The newspapers have been hardly able
to believe it: Malawi, one of the most food-insecure countries in Africa,
has been producing such big harvests of late that it has even become a
maize exporter.
An example of healthy would seem, of the resilience of less able to take advantage of the
green maize at
Chitimbe irrigation site. the country’s farmers who can opportunity. It was the larger
Irrigation has enabled overcome obstacles if the right farmers who created the surpluses
greater production
of maize, tomatoes, policies are in place to help them. that the country was then able to
onions, mustard leaves. Or is it too early to tell? export, not the smallholders. And
Photo: Jane Beesley/
Oxfam
then, in 2008, despite the good
The weather certainly helped, with harvests and national stockpiles
good rains in most places in 2005/6 of maize, the price of maize went
and 2006/7, although in 2007/8 up to the point where maize in
heavy rains flooded farmland in the market was too expensive for
much of the south of the country. many households to buy once their
The right policies involved own stocks were exhausted. This
government subsidies – with donor was part of a global increase in
support – and a more efficient food prices that had many causes,
distribution system that enabled including an increase in the price
many more poor farmers to obtain of oil (which also upped the cost
seeds and fertiliser from which of chemical fertilisers), conversion
some two million households of land to biofuels instead of food,
benefited. Fertilisers gave the soils and speculation and profiteering in
a big boost and the seeds supplied global markets.
were improved varieties that gave In 2007/8 the number of food
higher yields. Average yields per insecure people in Malawi had
hectare more than doubled. decreased to only 63,000, although
in early 2009 it had increased to
The contrast even over two years Even so, there were places where
around 600,00015.
was extraordinary. In 2005 drought communities harvested little;
meant that five million people not everyone got the coupons Is the improvement sustainable?
needed food aid. The 2006 harvest they were entitled to and it was The expanded subsidy programme
was a record-breaker; the 2007 particularly the poorest and and better distribution network
harvest was a full one-third better weakest inhabitants, notably are a huge improvement on what
than that; and – at the time of elderly people and women existed before. They are expensive,
writing this report - the 2008 supporting large numbers of but they should continue to more
harvest looked good too. Proof, it orphaned children, who were than pay for themselves with what

35
is produced if the harvests are Neliya Mukhoma at the
Chitimbe irrigation site.
good – and be much cheaper and A greater diversity
better than what might have to be and quantity of crops
have helped to fend off
put in place if they did not exist, hunger. Jane Beesley/
namely a large relief operation to Oxfam

help hungry people. Even so, how
long the subsidies continue will
always be debated in the context
of big unknowns. One such is the
weather, especially if there is a
particularly severe drought or bad
floods one year; and another is the
international financial climate.
To continue to reap the benefits
of the improved seeds, nitrogen
fertiliser is essential, and fertiliser
costs are linked to oil. Campaigners
for organic agriculture have
pointed out that fertilizer costs
increased by 65% from 2007 to
200816. If these trends continue
chemical fertilisers will become
prohibitively expensive. Better
seeds are essential, especially
in the light of predictions that
tropical temperatures will rise
considerably during the growing
season17, but better seeds alone will
not produce good harvests. The
breathing space provided by recent
good harvests could be used to
develop more resilient agricultural
systems, using such techniques
as manure/compost made on the
farm, irrigation, water harvesting
and tree planting. Ultimately, as
this report has indicated, over-
dependence on maize is risky;
there has to be diversification.
Adaptation and development: the connections Ask people how they
are adapting to climate change, or what help they need to adapt, and the
answers they give usually begin with what seems obvious: for example,
increased use of improved seeds that are drought-resistant.

But very quickly, people move are so often products of different even out of farming, is important
on to say that their definition funding streams as well as different and may be a more climate-resilient
of “adaptation” includes some mindsets. In a thoughtful essay18, strategy. But it is crucial to remember
less obvious strategies. Women authors Rachel Sabates-Wheeler, Tom that “the ability to diversify livelihoods is
might say that they want help Mitchell and Frank Ellis say CBA – not wealth neutral” – that is, the poor
to look after HIV/AIDS orphans, which is a fairly new concept – too cannot diversify as easily or to such
without which they do not have often fails to understand poverty advantage as the better-off.
the time to spend in the gardens dynamics in communities and is
For example, their diversification
that they need to undertake soil sometimes naïve to assume that
might well be to do casual, part-
conservation. Young men might livelihood diversification is always
time or unskilled work. Wilson
plead for vocational training so the best way to spread risks. CBA
Chiphale from Bruce village
that they have a better chance of focuses on conserving the ecological
in Balaka district, who was
getting a job so that they will no sustainability of communities; CBD
interviewed for this report, said
longer need to cut down trees. focuses on the assets of individuals
this was what he did, and then
and households.
At the level of communities, observed: “When we don’t have enough
and to the people in them, it The authors point to the rich we resort to piece work but by doing that
therefore seems obvious that history of adaptation in livelihoods we’re recycling hunger, because we’re
“community based adaptation” that is not restricted to climate putting our labour into that – helping
(CBA) and “community based factors alone (such as soil and somebody else – and not doing anything
development” (CBD) are water conservation) and urge ways on our own land”. In such ways,
intimately connected. However, to “find synergies between maximising climate change may exacerbate
organisations that promote productivity of livelihoods at the same inequalities within communities,
adaptation or development, time as maximising the ecological making the better off wealthier
whether governmental or non- sustainability of the community”. and the poor, poorer.
governmental, too often start
Agricultural diversity is an The writers say that “the more options
from different premises and go in
important strategy for sustainability: that there are, and the less dependent
different directions, neglecting the
Malawi, they say, is an example of such options are on environmental
connections.
how over-reliance on a single crop settings that are at high risk of
This is partly because “adaptation” (maize in this case) can lead to adverse climate change impacts, then
– particularly climate change greater livelihood insecurity. the more likely people will be able to
adaptation – and “development” - Diversity in addition to farming, or adapt to climate change”. The keys

37
TA Kapiche, standing
next to the fishpond
that the local
community has
constructed.

to being able to pursue options this report said. It is not, however, Furthermore, community-based
lie in possessing assets such as an understanding that is fully adaptation – and development – can
increased skills, higher levels of reflected yet in the thinking of only work up to a point; ultimately
education and increased savings many governments, including how well it succeeds or fails depends
(or access to loans) – exactly what donors, or climate change upon the policies and practices of
ordinary people interviewed for adaptation plans, even Malawi’s. government and other actors.

38
Malawi’s NAPA: National Adaptation Programmes of Action As
a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol, that puts into operation the United
Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC),
Malawi is obliged to report on its greenhouse gas emissions and
identify climate change impacts.

Oxfam’s press
conference at UNFCCC
in Poznan, December
2nd, 2008. Oxfam is
calling on rich, high-
emitting countries
to “stop harming” by
reducing emissions
and “start helping” by
funding adaptation.
This it has done through the Malawi has also developed its own greenhouse gases are cut drastically
First National Communication National Adaptation Programmes in the near future, as they must be,
of 2002 and a Second National of Action (NAPA). NAPAs provide a temperatures will continue to rise
Communication is reportedly almost way for LDCs to identify priority for some time and climates will
ready for publication (early 2009). activities that respond to their continue to change, hence a degree
“urgent and immediate” needs to of adaptation will be essential for
As a Least Developed Country (LDC), adapt to climate change. Even if all societies.
In theory, the activities identified promoting low-cost nutrition The NAPA critiqued
in the NAPAs – being urgent and supplements; raising awareness. Even if the funds requested were
immediate – should be priorities released, they would be tiny in
2 Restoring forests in the
for funding, and the channel for relation to Malawi’s adaptation
Shire Valley to reduce siltation
this funding is via the UNFCCC’s needs – less than $2 per head for
Least Developed Country Fund. The and associated flow problems, every person in the country. Making
money in the LDCF is supposed to be specifically: creating buffers along any sort of headway on any one
contributed voluntarily by wealthy rivers; planting fast-growing trees; of the priority activities – such as
industrialised nations. and building community capacity. improving community resilience
3 Improving agricultural production – could easily take up the entire
Malawi’s NAPA is a document that,
under erratic rains and changing budget. However, the NAPA is only
if implemented, would go some
climatic conditions, specifically: intended to be a start on adaptation,
way to enabling vulnerable rural
improving the choice of crop a first step.
communities to adapt to the adverse
impacts of climate change. To fund varieties; improving early warning With that in mind many Civil
it requires US $22.43 million. As this and climate observational systems; Society Organisations in Malawi have
report went to press in February, and improving extension services. put forward constructive criticisms
2009, no funds had been released. 4 Improving preparedness to of the NAPA and wider government
In its first contribution to any cope with droughts and floods, policy on climate change, with
multilateral adaptation funds, the specifically: conducting rapid the aim of improving the nation’s
US congress made US$10m available assessments and risk maps; capacity to respond long term.
for the LDC fund – less than half designing and testing strategies, Organisations like CURE, CEPA
of the cost of Malawi’s NAPA alone policies and laws; preparing (Centre for Environmental Policy
(and there are 49 LDCs). drought and flood preparedness and Advocacy), ActionAid and others
plans; integrating climate change have also been very critical of the
The NAPA identifies five priority
plans into land use planning; failure of international donors to
activities, which, in order of
constructing and rehabilitating provide the resources necessary to
priority, are:
dams and other flood mitigation implement the NAPA.
1 Improving community resilience measures; and building multi- Among the challenges these
to climate change through the purpose dams. organisations have highlighted
development of sustainable rural
– along with general capacity
livelihoods, specifically: improving 5 Improving climate monitoring
constraints due to lack of resources,
access to water; improving water for early warning and decision
the HIV and AIDS epidemic and so
management through water making and the sustainable
on – are:
harvesting, conservation and utilisation of Lake Malawi and
small-scale irrigation; improving lakeshore areas, specifically: • The
true extent of government
community storage systems for enhancing the capacity of commitment, given that the NAPA
seeds and food reserves; promoting monitoring stations; capacity was written by the Environmental
sustainable utilisation of dambos, building; developing fish breeding Affairs department of the Ministry
wetlands and river valleys; facilities to help restock fish; and of Mines, Natural Resources and
diversifying crops and livestock; developing fish farming. the Environment in 2006 but not

41
publicly launched in-country until Change conference scheduled for notably tree planting, and usually
March, 2008; December 2009]. without government assistance,
but they saw sustainable rural
• Lackof integration of climate “For example, make sure that all existing
livelihoods in a much broader
change throughout the key sectors, staff like agricultural extension workers
context than simply agriculture.
and the Ministries responsible – who work with farmers all over the This was especially true of women
for them, such as the Treasury country – and forestry workers, know and girls, and young people in
(responsible for drawing up about climate change - health extension general.
the national budget), hence workers in the rural areas too. Then they
marginalisation of the issue into can begin to translate the climate change They called for help to diversify
“the environment” portfolio; issue into language that the people can livelihoods and stimulate
• Lack
understand and find ways to bring it employment through vocational
of awareness of climate
into their discussions on farming and schools and training; access to
change in general and the NAPA
community health”. credit and small loans so they
in particular among government
could start up small businesses;
at all levels and in the population He says that NGOs are doing a lot investment by businesses to
at large, hence lack of involvement to support farmers and test and provide jobs; assistance in caring
and buy-in. spread best practice, but NGOs for orphans; access to information
Clement Kalonga formerly of cannot substitute for government through rural libraries; free health
ActionAid and now with Oxfam, is and government extension workers care and – very commonly – access
worried that climate change is not are critical in supporting climate to family planning services.
getting the governmental priority it change adaptation. Unfortunately,
there are not enough extension Maybin Ng’Ambi of CEPA says
deserves.
workers. Lack of money, failure to communities see it as being difficult
He says: “The NAPA has almost become prioritise the sector in budgets and to adapt to climate change precisely
an impediment. The government as a the debilitating impacts of HIV and because there are limited alternative
whole is not doing enough; it is waiting for AIDS are some of the reasons. livelihoods, and creating those
the NAPA to be funded. The government livelihoods needs to be a major part
should be more proactive, both in climate Oxfam echoes these concerns, and of a long-term plan to tackle climate
change programming and in looking for is also concerned that the activities change.
funds. If asked why they are not doing in the NAPA aimed at creating
sustainable rural livelihoods are What ordinary people in Malawi say
more, they say “but we have the NAPA and
focused so much on agriculture is a challenge to some international
it hasn’t been funded yet.
when smallholder farmers have a donors, who tend to see “climate
“But they could get on with co-ordinating wider perspective. change adaptation” in narrow
various climate change initiatives. The and technocratic ways: hard
most obvious ones would be to raise In the Stockholm Environmental infrastructure and quantifiable
awareness and to initiate co-ordination Institute study, rural people were supplies. It also sees “adaptation”
inside the government and with asked what they felt would help – and paying for it – as an add-on
stakeholders throughout Malawian them to adapt better to climate extra to “normal” development
society, especially in the months before change. They were often already processes, rather than running
Copenhagen [the major UN Climate initiating self-help programmes, through everything.

42
A startling, vivid canvas by Malawian artist Innocent
Willinga was the centrepiece of a powerful display of
paintings at the UN climate change conference at Poznan in
Poland.
Innocent was commissioned by Oxfam to illustrate climate change impacts on rural communities. He
painted the canvas, which he entitled “Green Future” after spending time in Mzigala village in TA
Kunthembwe’s area in Blantyre rural.
Before starting to paint Innocent wrote about his impressions from Mzigala, about how people there
had to live for today by surviving on ganyu and by cutting down trees for charcoal. It was, he felt, “a
hopeless foggy future for innocent kids” in the village who had to watch their parents try to survive using
methods that would damage the environment for future generations.
But he also felt that the cohesion and community spirit that was apparent in Mzigala gave great
hope for a better future.
He said: “Green Future represents a life we can promise ourselves if we can fight together towards rebuilding
our ecosystem, a legacy for our kids”. It will be crucial, he said, for such unity to be replicated at
international level.
“Green Future” and the other paintings formed the visual backdrop to Oxfam’s call to rich nations
to cut emissions of greenhouse gases at the Poznan conference in December, 2008.
In Malawi, Oxfam and CARD used the canvas to mobilise people of TA Kapichi in Thyolo District
to reflect on climate change issues. Innocent worked with school children from Khonjeni Primary
School who painted their own canvasses on the subject, which were then displayed at an open
day. People who came from surrounding communities demonstrated fuel-saving technologies and
performed dances and drama to raise awareness of climate change issues.
The District Commissioner for Thyolo, Mr Bester Mandele, who was guest of honour, spoke of the
need to constitute a committee at district level to look into climate change issues, with particular
emphasis on collecting data so that programming could be based on accurate and up-to-date
information.

Detail from ‘Green Future’ by Innocent Willinga
Conclusions and recommendations The foundation of any initiative to
address climate change hinges on community ownership; at the same
time there must be wider supportive political and institutional frameworks.

Scores of schoolgirls, adaptation. At the same time, there
from the Mitengo
Primary School went
must be wider supportive political
on a colourful march and institutional frameworks.
during the Thyolo
District Assembly open Local knowledge based on first-
day on climate change.
More than 4000 people hand experience of climate change
participated. and adaptation is going to be
critical to the successful design of
community adaptation and this
must be tapped.
Women in Malawi bear the greatest
burdens from climate change so it
is crucial that their participation is
made central to adaptation efforts.
Local sustainable environmental
and natural resource management
are essential in order to reduce
vulnerability whether caused
by climate change or by
environmental degradation. These
should be strengthened within
adaptation and also Disaster Risk
Reduction programmes.
People do not perceive climate
change as something separate
or additional to their lives and
Conclusions and recommendations the foundation of any initiative livelihoods, but intimately
at community level. to address climate change hinges connected. Therefore, it is
At a community level, poor on communities being aware of important to ensure that initiatives
communities are worst affected the issues, owning the process of to address climate change are
by, and least able to cope, with adaptation and having the capacity equally integrated with the
climate change impacts. Therefore to undertake and maintain promotion and diversification

45
of sustainable livelihoods. countries both most responsible for farmers the information that they
Vulnerability assessments need to today’s climate impacts and most need.
take account of projected future capable of assisting. They need
Government should prioritise
climate hazards as well as current to advocate too for industrialised
energy efficient stoves and
variabilities. Likewise, adaptation countries to drastically and
other technologies for cooking
measures that address current and urgently reduce their greenhouse
future levels of climate change and discourage the continued
gas emissions.
should be given priority. production of charcoal, and help
Conclusions and recommendations poor and vulnerable communities
Conclusions and recommendations at government level. to find alternative livelihoods.
for Civil Society Organisations. The government should strengthen
Among civil society and non- Government should strengthen
institutional mechanisms for more
governmental organisations: formal and informal education
effective co-ordination of climate
about climate change and
Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) change adaptation and Disaster
work with CSOs to raise public
working in Malawi should make Risk Reduction programmes. The
awareness.
climate risk analysis an integral government should establish
part of all appraisals before budgetary allocations to finance the Based upon the foundation of
initiating work with communities. NAPA projects and further climate dialogue and discussion with its
change initiatives. To be successful, citizens, the government of Malawi
CSOs and INGOs should facilitate all these efforts must involve poor should proactively participate
awareness and capacity-building communities and civil society. in international conferences
around climate change, in their and discussions to highlight
staff, their partners, government The government should
the injustice of climate change
and other organisations, and in the strengthen linkages between the
and the plight of poor countries
communities which they serve. Environmental Affairs Department
and communities. In view of
and the Department of Disaster
CSOs and international NGOs the current crucial round of
Management Affairs. This should
should work together both to intergovernmental negotiations
include developing a methodology
strengthen community-based towards a post-2012 regime, the
for harmonised vulnerability and
climate change adaptation and government should also strengthen
adaptation assessment.
disaster risk reduction and to investment in capacity building its
strengthen advocacy at national Agriculture and related activities national delegation and diplomatic
level. They need to advocate should get priority in climate corps and join with other Southern
for government to take up its related research. Government governments to press for new
responsibilities for leadership needs to strengthen the capacity mechanisms to ensure flows of
and co-ordination at all levels, of the Meteorological Department sufficient and predictable finance
and government to demand to improve both long-term climate for adaptation in poor countries
new, additional, sufficient and modelling and regular, short- and communities. The NAPAs need
predictable flows of adaptation term weather forecasting and to be funded urgently and in full.
finance from the industrialised dissemination in order to give

46
Endnotes

1 ‘Hot’ days or ‘hot’ nights are defined by the temperature exceeded on 10% of days or nights in the current climate of that region and season.
2 ‘Cold’ days or ‘cold’ nights are defined as the temperature below which 10% of days or nights are recorded in the current climate of that
region or season.
3 Evidence of trends in daily climate extremes over southern and west Africa, M New et al, Journal of Geophysical Research, vol. 111, 21 July
2006. (Malawi National Meteorological Service contributed to the study).
4 New et al, ibid.
5 http://country-profiles.geog.ox.ac.uk/index.html?country=Malawi&d1=Reports
6 Ibid.
7 David S Battisti and Rosamond L Naylor, Historical Warnings of Future Food Insecurity with Unprecedented Seasonal Heat, Science, 9 Janu-
ary 2009, vol. 323, no. 5911, pp 240-244.
8 Different figures for life expectancy are cited by, for example, ISDR, Unicef, WHO, UNDP and the CIA World Factbook.
9 Changes in growing-season rainfall characteristics and downscaled scenarios of change over southern Africa: implications for growing
maize, Tadross, Suarez et al. IPCC regional Expert Meeting on Regional Impacts, Adaptation, Vulnerability, and Mitigation, Nadi, Fiji, June
20-22, pp 193-204, (2007). Correspondence to Mark Tadross, Climate Systems Analysis Group, Dept. Environmental & Geographical Science,
University of Cape Town, Rondebosch 7701. South Africa (mtadross@egs.uct.ac.za, Tel: +27 21 6502884, Fax: +27 21 6505773).
10 Climate change and smallholder farmers in Malawi: understanding poor people’s experiences in climate change adaptation, ActionAid,
October 2006.
11 UNAIDS 2008 Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic.
12 HIV/AIDS, Climate Change and Disaster Management: Challenges for Institutions in Malawi. Suarez, Givah, Storey and Lotsch. World Bank
Development Research Group Sustainable Rural and Urban Development Team, May 2008, Policy Research Working Paper 4634.
13 Malawi Essential Health Services Campaign For All Campaign: Country Case Study, November 2008.
14 Ibid.
15 The original estimate of food insecure people for 2008/9 was 1,490,000 – see FewsNet, September 24th, 2008.
16 See LEISA, September 2008, vol. 24, no.3, pages 16-17 for a discussion on fertilizer subsidies.
17 Battisti and Naylor, ibid.
18 Avoiding Repetition: Time for CBA to Engage with the Livelihoods Literature? Rachel Sabates-Wheeler, Tom Mitchell and Frank Ellis, IDS
(Institute of Development Studies) Bulletin Vol. 39. No.4, September 2008.

47

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