Malawi poverty and environment initiative (PEI) Phase I

What is the project about

The PEI was developed jointly by UNDP and UNEP after identifying gaps in integrating poverty and environment concerns in national development agenda. The project therefore aims to enhance the contribution of the sustainable management of natural resources to poverty reduction, pro-poor economic growth and achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. This will be achieved by developing awareness and promoting action to tackle entrenched environmental problems and their socio-economic impacts; supporting the development of a more harmonized policy and programmatic approach in the natural resources sector; and supporting the Government of Malawi to responding and adapt to climate change as well as the impacts of other natural resource derived shocks and hazards.

The project does not seek to achieve, on its own, comprehensive mainstreaming and related capacity development in all sectors and at decentralized levels. The PEI rather aims to assist the Government of Malawi to mainstream environmentally sustainable environment and natural resources management (ENRM) in key ministries and sectors, and demonstrate to key decision-makers and development partners that further investment in sustainable ENRM is justified to assist the country to attain priority development objectives. The programme has been running since 2009 and is expected to wind up in December 2013 and a successor initiative is already being designed for 2014-17.

The overall goal of the project is to integrate sustainable natural resources management (NRM) into national and sectoral policy, planning and budget processes in order to ensure poverty reduction, economic growth and the achievement of other development outcomes in an environmentally sustainable manner.

What have we accomplished so far

  1. Dissemination of the Malawi State of the Environment and Outlook Report (MSEOR) which has registered outstanding success in advocacy and awareness raising for the promotion of sustainable ENRM.
  2. Production and dissemination of the Economic Valuation on Sustainable Natural Resources Use in Malawi (EVR) which has been widely used alongside the MSEOR for the advocacy and awareness work/efforts.
  3. Production of guidelines on how to integrate ENRM into the Guide to the Executive Decision-Making Processes handbook, a handbook that guides development planning and direction by senior government officials.
  4. Production of Decentralized Environmental Management Guidelines to guide district level staff in incorporating sustainable ENRM into local development plans and actions.
  5. The incorporation of sustainable ENRM guidelines into the National Budget Guidelines.
  6. The production of a concept (note) for resource harmonization and consolidation in the form of a Sector Wide Approach (SWAp) for Climate Change and ENRM in Malawi.
  7. Support for monitoring implementation, and use of sustainability indicators, under a similar approach in agriculture, the Agriculture Sector Wide Approach.
  8. Review and revision of the Fisheries Policy and the Forestry Policy which are at very advanced stages.

Lessons learnt

  • There is a need for huge investments in time and resources to start yielding the outcomes of a project. With the aging of the project, it is easier to identify the project impacts in the country.
  • Economic valuations of ENRM are instrumental in lobbying policy makers to appreciate the magnitude of the problem ‘unsustainability’. The Economic Valuation on Sustainable Use of Natural Resources in Malawi report has helped to achieve integration of ENRM in national development strategies, budgets, policy making handbooks as well as local government planning processes. 
  • High level involvement of key players i.e. UNDP, MoEPD, PEI and implementing partners is key to ensuring progress.
  • Coordination and collaboration among projects/programmes is instrumental in minimising duplication of activities. PEI and NCCP have minimised duplication through joint collaboration.
  • There are high transaction costs to ensure that the work PEI is supporting gets done especially in the sectors.  PEI invested a lot of time and resources, and in some instances hiring consultants with sector specific TORs helped the progress. However, done carefully and strategically, such costs can be worthwhile as in the case of the Malawi PEI.
  • Realistic planning is vital for a project of this nature. In the first planning process of PEI Malawi, the time and resources required to carry out several of the activities were heavily underestimated. This needs to be reflected in planning for the next phase of PEI Malawi.
  • Staff changes within government can have a negative effect on the project implementation rate as well as the sustainability of project outcomes. It will hence be crucial, in the next phase, to include a focus on long-term institutional government capacity building to mitigate these challenges.

Who Finances it?

Only financial contributions of at least $ 100,000.00 are indicated here.

Donor Name
Amount contributed per year
UNEP $ 322,306.00
One UN
$ 157,728.71
UNDP $ 189,423.00


Delivery in previous fiscal year

Donor Name
Amount used
$ 310,377.00
One UN
UNDP $ 169,239.00

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