Key issues in Malawi

In 1995 the Malawian Government undertook the development of a National Environmental Action Plan (NEAP) in pursuit of its responsibilities in terms of the Malawi Constitution, Chapter III, Section 13(d):

To manage the environment responsibly in order to:


In the process of developing the NEAP, key environmental issues were identified. These include: soil erosion, deforestation, water resources degradation and depletion, threat to fish resources, threat to biodiversity, human habitat degradation, high population growth, air pollution and climate change.    Figure 2‑1 illustrates the linkages between these key environmental issues. Integrated Catchment Management seeks to understand the problems holistically and address them in a sustainable and system manner.


Figure 2 1: Cause and effect linkage of drivers and impacts of environmental degradation

The objective of these two volumes of Guidelines is to provide knowledge and enable communities, Districts and Government Departments to implement integrated Catchment Management. By implementing catchment management activities will result in healthier catchments (representative of all natural resources) and improve livelihoods, as illustrated in Figure 2‑2.


Figure 2 2 The implementation of catchment management activities results in healthy catchments and improved livelihoods.

Since 1995, considerable work has been undertaken in Malawi to address these issues. The partnership and support of funding and aid organisations must be acknowledged. Some of these initiatives are listed below:

Table 2‑1: Initiatives to address environmental degradation in Malawi

Initiatives to address environmental degradation

National Forestry Policy in 1996

National Forestry Act 1997

National Forestry Programme in 2000

National Land Resources Management Policy and Strategy in 2000

National Water Development Programme (NWDP I 1995-2004, and NWDP II 2007-2015)

National Water Policy in 2005

Malawi Growth Development Strategy (MGDS I 2006-2011 and MGDS II 2011-2016)

National Sanitation Policy in 2008

National Water Resources Master Plan[1] (1987 – updated 2011-2014)

Water Quality Management Project (2011-2013)

National Irrigation Plan and Infrastructure Framework, 2014

Green Belt Initiative (GBI) 2015-2018

Agricultural Sector Wide Approach (ASWAp)


[1] Project for National Water Resources Master Plan in the Republic of Malawi.  Undertaken by CTI Engineering International Co., Ltd., Oriental Consultants Co., Ltd and NEWJEC Inc. for the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development (MoAIWD), Funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

The key issues raised in the NEAP are still apparent, and environmental degradation is still evident.  These are discussed in more detail below.