Malawi includes chapter on inclusive environment and natural resource mainstreaming in Guide to Executive Decision-Making Handbook

Sep 8, 2015

Malawi’s economy is largely dependent on environment and natural resources (ENR) with the agriculture sector being the primary contributor to GDP. Vulnerable groups disproportionally depend upon natural resources for their livelihoods and well-being. For example, productive and fertile soils are essential for ensuring food security, energy needs are met by biomass and incomes are derived from selling fish and other natural resource based products in the markets. Hence, Malawi’s economy and poverty reduction efforts are highly vulnerable to the adverse impacts of environment and natural resource (ENR) degradation, climate change and extreme weather events.

In June 2015 the Office of the President in Malawi officially approved a Guide to Executive Decision-Making Processes Handbook outlining the processes and procedures to be followed in policy development in Malawi’s public service. With technical support from Poverty-Environment Initiative Malawi (PEI Malawi) the guide includes an annex providing guidance of how decision and policy makers’ better can integrate inclusive and sustainable ENR management in all stages of the public planning cycle. Although recently approved, the Guide has already been used in its draft form to review upcoming sector policies, including climate change, fisheries and forestry, from a sustainability perspective.

The objective is that the guidelines will help address environmental degradation in Malawi, such as deforestation, estimated to be at 2.8% which is the highest rate in southern Africa. A local leader of Dedza District, known in Malawi as the Traditional Authority Kachindamoto, has no words for the damage caused by illegal charcoal and timber production as she highlights that it is clear that it undermines both livelihoods and environmental sustainability. She says that “persons [or companies] engaged in such activities are not friends of the earth or the communities.” The local leader empasizes that if natural resources were managed by the communities in collaboration with the Government, under the guidance of a strong legal and policy framework, illegal charcoal and timber production could be reduced and poverty alleviated.

The PEI Malawi theory of change is that pro-poor sustainability objectives included in national and sector policies when implemented will enable more sustainable management of ENR in a way so that poverty is reduced for the large part of the population that is dependent on natural resources for their livelihood. The inclusion of a chapter on ENR in the Guide to the Executive Decision-Making Processes is a step in the right direction.

PEI Malawi will continue to support the Office of the President to ensure the use of the guide by providing training to permanent secretaries and cabinet ministers of how to practically apply the guide and in particular the annex on environment and natural resources. PEI will also provide support for including the Guide in the curriculum of government staff training institution