A lack of income generating opportunities, energy supply, and food security, along with rapid population growth, have been identified as key drivers behind deforestation and catchment degradation in all catchments in Malawi, and in particular in areas with high population densities such as the southern region. It is therefore critical that alternative and sustainable livelihood opportunities be developed as part of a holistic approach to the protection of critical ecosystems and to protect catchment areas, while at the same time supporting social and economic development and improved livelihoods for all communities.

The old adage that says “your chicken is not safe if your neighbour is hungry” applies to the communities facing food insecurity. This section considers the existing knowledge and practice for the development of sustainable livelihoods as being critical in the protection of common resources, and presents a few ideas for alternative income generating opportunities that could be considered. Alternative approaches to addressing the issues of limited energy supply options, food insecurity and low agricultural productivity and technical guidelines to implement these are included in Volume II: Chapter 6.