It cannot be debated that in Malawi, the livelihood of many people is heavily dependent on rain-fed agriculture.
However, in recent years, the adverse impacts of Climate Change have been making the agriculture sector vulnerable.
With the prolonged dry spells, seasonal droughts, changes in rainfall patterns and floods characterising the rainy seasons; these climate Change effects have been posing a serious risk to the productivity and profitability of crop farming in the country.
To mitigate these challenges, UNDP in Malawi has been working hand in hand with the Government of Malawi to map pathways aimed at building resilient communities and minimize disruptions from climate disasters that affect everyday life and the local economy.
The Government of Malawi - through the Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining, with support from UNDP and the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Least Developed Countries Fund - is implementing a project in 3 districts namely; Nkata-bay, Zomba and Ntcheu, to support the implementation of adaptation priorities through strengthened, decentralized and national development.
The project aims at establishing and then demonstrate the institutional framework required to mainstream climate resilience and adaptation into development planning at local and national levels.
Integrated Water Supply System
Drought is one of the most severe effects of climate change in Malawi. Apart from causing the lack of access to water supply, drought derails the economic progress for communities.
In this regard, Integrated Water Supply System has proved to be key towards improving community members’ well-being and economic growth.
Currently, there are 5 Integrated Water Supply Systems - supported by this project - that are benefiting communities in Nkhata-Bay, Zomba and Ntcheu districts.
By way of illustration, Chaswa-Mafupa Irrigation Scheme in the southern district and former capital of Zomba is benefiting community members from 80 households. This system is using Solar-Powered Water Pumping Mechanism to lift groundwater that is being supplied to communities within 10 Ha area for domestic use, irrigation and fishery, among other various purposes.
Solar-Powered Water Pumping is an innovative solution to build the adaptive capacity of communities to climate change as it utilizes renewable energy.
The system has benefited the communities in many ways, for instance, with boreholes, time and effort women and children used to spend before, to cover long distances just to fetch water or wash clothes has considerably been reduced. The time saved is now being spent on more productive activities.
Additionally, the groundwater from boreholes - being one of the least contaminated sources of water – has reduced cases of water-borne diseases that used to claim lives of many productive citizens in the communities.
As that is not enough, the water supply has enabled the community members to plant vegetables, locally-collected mango seedlings; as alternative crops. Currently, the communities have 400 seedlings, but 5,000 seedlings is their target for the next growing season.
Using the water from the system, they are also managing three fish ponds as a demonstration; each of which has 1,700, 1,500, 1,500 fingerlings now, which will bring them 2,500MWK of income per 1kg.
For sustainability and cost reduction, they have learnt how to make fish feed on their own, using leftover fish from the market, mixing with maize and Soya Beans.
Among the principal beneficiaries of this initiative is Mr. Raphael Nkhoma, the Chief of the community, who has started his own farming with lessons from the activities.
Before this scheme started, his income solely depended on bananas which brought him MK 7,500, a month. He is now expecting to make MK 40,000 per month with rice, vegetables, fish and bananas from his field.
Nkhoma says: “Before this irrigation system, I was just sitting at home when there was no rain. But now that
we can utilize water even during dry season, I have so much work to do. My life has become so productive.”
He was looking forward to selling his crops in the month of June.
Pig Farming as a Climate Change Adaptation Activity
Pig farming - as part of climate change adaptation activities – has a huge potential to bring alternative income and food security to communities.
With fast reproduction rate, it serves as a reliable and sustainable income source at a community level.
This project is currently supporting piggery groups in Nkhata-bay and Ntcheu Districts.
The Piggery groups have benefited through cooperative piggery training which is delivered by the Ministry of Trade and Industry, to generate alternative income as one of the measures of copying with crop failure resulting from prevailing unpredictable rainfall seasons.
This cooperative training is helping members from the piggery groups to collectively access equitable market. On of such is Msumdu Piggery Group in Nkhata-bay District, which has 11 beneficiaries (8 women and 3 men) and currently boast of 15 pigs.
One of its members is Ms. Modester Phiri, who is very excited to sell the pigs and make an income that will economically transform her family.
Concurring with Modester is Victoria, one of the members from Tikolesyane Piggery Group, who says: “Through this project, I have become more confident and hopeful about my life. I am excited to sell pigs and earn income. I can now afford my children’s school fees and foods for the family.”
“We have 11 pigs now but our goal is to increase the number to 1,000 in the future and we are planning to build four more pig sheds from July this year,” she said.
Despite challenges faced in securing maize husks for feeding pigs - especially when there is a bad harvest - the 12-member cooperative (consisting of 7 women and 5 men) remains optimistic as it looks for alternative feeds to mitigate the challenge.
The Adapt Plan project’s economic and social empowerment support to the communities is expected to enhance their resilience in the long run.
Supporting Poultry farming for smallholder Farmers
As part of the activities to diversify incomes for smallholder farmers in rural communities, Adapt Plan has also been supporting poultry farming.
There are currently 8 poultry groups in Nkhata Bay District supported by this project and beneficiaries are still being recruited in Ntcheu District.
Kaligomba poultry group located in Kamuchibazi area in Nkhata Bay District consists of 11 people, out of which 8 are women and 3 are men.
Before the project, their income mainly depended on cassava, maize and sweet potatoes.
Through training on the best poultry-rearing practices and management skills - supported by the project - group members are now able to manage a Poultry Agri-business and generate complimentary incomes.
The Poultry raising has hugely contributed towards women’s economic empowerment.
Ms. Evans Zilahowa says: “I am so grateful that this project has had a positive impact on our lives. We are now able to use the money realised from this farming to pay for our children’s school fees, buying food, and even starting new business.”
The project is also supporting integration of resilience and adaptation measures into district budget and planning process, following a participatory process that is expected to strengthen the voice and accountability processes at district levels.