Transformational Adaptation for Climate Resilience in Lake Chilwa Basin of Malawi (TRANSFORM)

Project Overview

Across Malawi, local communities are increasingly affected by climate change and variability. In recent decades, a range of climatic changes have been observed across the country, including a reduction in average annual precipitation, an increase in average annual temperatures of 0.9°C since 1960, delays in the onset of the rainfall season, a decrease in the length of the rainfall season, and a longer dry season. While the direct impacts of extreme climate events are well documented, other negative effects are more challenging to quantify. These additional impacts include an observed increase in outbreaks of pests and diseases since the 1970s, increasing levels of malnutrition, and warmer temperatures making it increasingly difficult for farmers to work outside during the day, thereby reducing their ability to produce food.

These climate change impacts are particularly severe in the Lake Chilwa Basin and its catchment districts of Zomba, Phalombe and Machinga. Listed as a Ramsar site in 1997, Lake Chilwa and its surrounding wetlands provide habitats for a wide diversity of bird, fish and other fauna and flora, and is accordingly an area of considerable conservation value. Lake Chilwa is also the second largest lake in Malawi and a source of livelihoods for approximately 1.5 million people who depend on the lake and its catchments for fish and other resources such as grass, reeds and non-timber forest products.

Vulnerability to climate change impacts in Malawi and particularly in the Lake Chilwa basin is driven by chronic poverty, food and nutrition insecurity, overdependence on natural resources, high exposure to climate hazards and risks, ineffective early warning and disaster risk reduction systems, inadequate climate shock preparedness, weak adaptive capacity of households to withstand recurrent shocks and stresses, limited economic opportunities, and inadequate provisioning of, and access to, social services.

The proposed 60-month “Transformational Adaptation for Climate Resilience in Lake Chilwa Basin of Malawi (TRANSFORM)” project will build on existing initiatives aimed at the sustainable and
equitable use of natural resources within the Lake Chilwa basin. This will be achieved with a shift away from natural resource degradation and limited livelihood opportunities towards large-scale implementation of ecosystem-based adaptation and widespread adoption of alternative livelihoods and value chains that build adaptive capacity while contributing to reducing the country’s greenhouse gas emissions. The lessons learned from the Lake Chilwa Basin will be upscaled across the country through policy and private sector models that create green jobs particularly among small-, medium- and micro-enterprises — thereby contributing to recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The main interventions of the project include: i) enhancing the capacity of communities and institutions to plan, implement and monitor ecosystem-based adaptation interventions; ii) improving small-scale producers’ access to lucrative markets for climate-resilient products and value chains through diversification of product/service offerings and alternative livelihoods, as well as through a sustainable climate finance facility; and iii) facilitating the adoption of alternative livelihoods. These interventions will see more robust and coordinated relationships between the private sector and small-scale producers, facilitated by concessional financing, improved infrastructure and technologies. This could include, inter alia, roads and transportation infrastructure, telecommunication infrastructure, and equipment such as cold storage facilities to reduce post-harvest losses of harvested commodities.

The Global Environment Facility Least Developed Countries Fund-financed project will be implemented by Malawi’s Ministry of Forestry and Natural Resources with support from UNDP. UNDP is providing US$2,000,000 in co-financing. 

*The designations employed and the presentation of material on this map do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Secretariat of the United Nations or UNDP concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.

Expected Outcomes

Component 1: Enhancing cross-sectoral technical capacity for climate change adaptation in Malawi.

Component 2: Implementation of EbA and sustainable climate-resilient livelihoods

Component 3: Enhancing market linkages for private sector investment in adaptation options and climate-resilient enterprises

Project Details

Levels of Intervention

District

Source of Funds

Global Environment Facility - Least Developed Countries Fund

Key Implementers

National Governments
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

Funding Amounts

US$4.4 million
US$21.4 million

Project Partners

Malawi Ministry of Forestry and Natural Resources
Global Environment Facility (GEF)
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

Project Dates

2021 to 2026

Introduction

Across Malawi, local communities are increasingly affected by climate change and variability. In recent decades, a range of climatic changes have been observed across the country, including a reduction in average annual precipitation, an increase in average annual temperatures of 0.9°C since 1960, delays in the onset of the rainfall season, a decrease in the length of the rainfall season, and a longer dry season. While the direct impacts of extreme climate events are well documented, other negative effects are more challenging to quantify. These additional impacts include an observed increase in outbreaks of pests and diseases since the 1970s, increasing levels of malnutrition, and warmer temperatures making it increasingly difficult for farmers to work outside during the day, thereby reducing their ability to produce food.

These climate change impacts are particularly severe in the Lake Chilwa Basin and its catchment districts of Zomba, Phalombe and Machinga. Listed as a Ramsar site in 1997, Lake Chilwa and its surrounding wetlands provide habitats for a wide diversity of bird, fish and other fauna and flora, and is accordingly an area of considerable conservation value. Lake Chilwa is also the second largest lake in Malawi and a source of livelihoods for approximately 1.5 million people who depend on the lake and its catchments for fish and other resources such as grass, reeds and non-timber forest products.

Vulnerability to climate change impacts in Malawi and particularly in the Lake Chilwa basin is driven by chronic poverty, food and nutrition insecurity, overdependence on natural resources, high exposure to climate hazards and risks, ineffective early warning and disaster risk reduction systems, inadequate climate shock preparedness, weak adaptive capacity of households to withstand recurrent shocks and stresses, limited economic opportunities, and inadequate provisioning of, and access to, social services.

The proposed 60-month “Transformational Adaptation for Climate Resilience in Lake Chilwa Basin of Malawi (TRANSFORM)” project will build on existing initiatives aimed at the sustainable and
equitable use of natural resources within the Lake Chilwa basin. This will be achieved with a shift away from natural resource degradation and limited livelihood opportunities towards large-scale implementation of ecosystem-based adaptation and widespread adoption of alternative livelihoods and value chains that build adaptive capacity while contributing to reducing the country’s greenhouse gas emissions. The lessons learned from the Lake Chilwa Basin will be upscaled across the country through policy and private sector models that create green jobs particularly among small-, medium- and micro-enterprises — thereby contributing to recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The main interventions of the project include: i) enhancing the capacity of communities and institutions to plan, implement and monitor ecosystem-based adaptation interventions; ii) improving small-scale producers’ access to lucrative markets for climate-resilient products and value chains through diversification of product/service offerings and alternative livelihoods, as well as through a sustainable climate finance facility; and iii) facilitating the adoption of alternative livelihoods. These interventions will see more robust and coordinated relationships between the private sector and small-scale producers, facilitated by concessional financing, improved infrastructure and technologies. This could include, inter alia, roads and transportation infrastructure, telecommunication infrastructure, and equipment such as cold storage facilities to reduce post-harvest losses of harvested commodities.

The Global Environment Facility Least Developed Countries Fund-financed project will be implemented by Malawi’s Ministry of Forestry and Natural Resources with support from UNDP. UNDP is providing US$2,000,000 in co-financing. 

Project Details

June 2021
Project Approval

Country overview

In Malawi, local communities are increasingly affected by climate change and variability. In recent decades, a range of climatic changes have been observed across the country, including: i) a reduction in average annual precipitation; ii) an increase in average annual temperatures of 0.9°C since 1960; iii) delays in the onset of the rainfall season; and iv) a decrease in the length of the rainfall season, and a longer dry season. These increasingly erratic climate conditions are experienced by local communities across the country who have reported that rainfall has become increasingly unpredictable, and that the rainy season has become delayed, inconsistent and short[1]. The 2011–2012 rainy season, for example, was expected to start in October/November of 2011, but instead only started in December and ended in February 2012 (short of the expected end in April). Moreover, the rainfall of this season was erratic and interrupted by frequent dry spells, which had a notable impact of natural resource-based livelihoods, shortening the growing season and reducing crop productivity [2]. Across Malawi, shifts in rainfall contribute to an increased frequency and intensity of climatic hazards such as droughts and floods. Indeed, there has already been an observed increase in drought occurrences since the 1980s[3], severely impacting a large proportion of the country’s population. In a 2011 survey, 98% of farmers reported being affected by drought, and in 2016–17, approximately 6.5 million people (~40% of the country’s total population) were directly affected by the adverse impacts of drought — particularly through a decline in food security[4]. In addition to droughts, several significant floods have also occurred across the country in recent years, with considerable impacts on the livelihoods of vulnerable communities. For example, flooding events in January 2012 and January 2013 washed away large volumes of soil and deposited debris on agricultural fields. These events also resulted in the loss of life, and damages to public and private property, as well as crops (totalling ~US$73 million in damages). This led to knock-on effects for food security, and public health (due to an increased incidence of vector-borne diseases such as diarrhoea, cholera and malaria)[5].

In recent decades, the impacts of climate change have been intensified by the El Niño Southern Oscillation Cycle (ENSO). For example, in 2015, the most severe El Niño event in 35 years occurred, contributing to multiple droughts, as well as the country’s most damaging flood in 50 years. The recovery and reconstruction requirements of economic sectors affected by the 2015 floods totalled ~US$335 million (equivalent to ~5% of GDP at the time). Excluding housing, transport had the single largest financial need, at 32% of total recovery costs, followed by agriculture (16%), and water and sanitation (13%). The 2015 floods affected ~1.1 million people, displaced ~230,000 people and resulted in 106 deaths. Compounding the disaster, the onset of rains in 2015 was delayed by more than a month, which shortened the growing season and further impeded crop production and recovery in the years following the floods. This had a severely negative effect on the economy of Malawi because of its strong reliance on agriculture for economic growth and subsistence. Climate change is also increasing the frequency and intensity of tropical cyclones, which are intensifying such flooding. The most recent event in Malawi — Tropical Cyclone Idai — occurred in 2019, affecting approximately one million people[6],[7]. The cyclone caused floods that affected multiple districts across the country, which led to damages and losses totalling ~US$220 million. As a result, the Government of Malawi (GoM) had to spend ~US$370 million for recovery, reconstruction and rebuilding of resilience to disasters.

While the direct impacts of extreme climate events are well documented, other negative effects of climatic change in Malawi are more challenging to quantify. These additional impacts include: i) an observed increase in outbreaks of pests and diseases since the 1970s[8]; ii) increasing levels of malnutrition[9],[10]; and iii) warmer temperatures making it increasingly difficult for farmers to work outside during the day, thereby reducing their ability to produce food.

Given the adverse impacts of climate change on natural resources, the sustainable development of Malawi — and therefore the wellbeing of its population — is increasingly being compromised. This is reflected by the country’s low ranking (172 out of 189 countries) on the Human Development Index (HDI)[11] and high annual ranking on the Climate Change Vulnerability Index (CCVI)[12]. Malawi’s vulnerability to climate change is caused by interconnected climatic and non-climatic phenomena. For example, environmental degradation is occurring in combination with demographic pressures such as high population growth, causing an overreliance by communities on the natural resource base, and consequently further degradation, a decline in their livelihood productivity, and therefore deepening poverty. The worsening socio-economic situation for many vulnerable Malawians is occurring despite the country’s strong economic growth in recent years — particularly in its agriculture, energy, forestry, mining, industrial and services sectors. Many Malawians have not benefited from this economic growth because their livelihoods are primarily dependent on natural resources, which are being negatively impacted by the combination of environmental degradation and climate change.

Climate change and environmental degradation in the Lake Chilwa basin

Although climate change impacts are occurring across Malawi, they are particularly severe in the Lake Chilwa basin and its catchment districts of Zomba, Phalombe and Machinga — the target areas of the proposed project. Listed as a Ramsar site in 1997[13], Lake Chilwa and its surrounding wetlands provide habitats for a wide diversity of bird, fish and other fauna and flora, and is accordingly an area of considerable conservation value. Lake Chilwa is also the second largest lake in Malawi and a source of livelihoods for ~1.5 million people who depend on the lake and its catchments for inter alia fish and other resources such as grass, reeds and non-timber forest products (NTFPs)[14]. The primary livelihood strategies in the area involve agriculture and fishing, both of which are natural resource-based and strongly dependent on the flow of ecosystem services such as nutrient cycling and regulation of the hydrological cycle. This dependence exacerbates Lake Chilwa communities’ vulnerability to the impacts of climatic change[15]. Indeed, there is growing evidence of the adverse impacts of climate change on the lake’s aquatic and surrounding terrestrial ecosystems, resulting in a considerable decline in biodiversity, with knock-on effects on the provision of ecosystem services underpinning communities’ livelihoods.

Along with erratic rainfall — and the subsequent drought and flood impacts on communities and agricultural production described above — the primary impact of climate change in the Lake Chilwa basin over the past decades has been the general decline of the water level within the lake[16]. When the lake’s levels decrease, fish stocks can take several years to recover, which disrupts fishing communities' livelihoods for extended periods[17]. A large proportion of women living in the basin are particularly vulnerable to drying of the lake, as fish processing — which is dependent on reasonably priced fish stocks — is their primary income-generating activity. A decline in fish stocks increases competition between fisherfolk and consumers for the remaining fish, driving up prices and reducing women’s income potential from fish processing. In response to the unpredictability of Lake Chilwa’s water levels and productivity, communities have developed diversified, mobile, and often unsustainable livelihoods — including charcoal production, which contribute to deforestation in catchment areas.

While Lake Chilwa has dried completely nine times in the last century (the last time in 2018), its capacity to recover from these events is decreasing[18]. Although refilling of Lake Chilwa can occur in as little as one year — such as in the 2014–2015 rainfall season — it normally takes approximately two to three years to refill[19]. However, this refilling of the lake is contingent upon the adequate infiltration of groundwater in its forested catchment areas, and the effective recovery of fish stocks depends on the management of remnant pools in the perennial rivers and streams that feed into the lake[20].

The above mentioned environmental degradation compromising Lake Chilwa’s water levels and fish stocks include: i) deforestation; ii) degradation of wetlands — particularly when the receding water level exposes land on the lake’s shores to crop and livestock production; iii) reduced flow of rivers; and iv) soil erosion which causes siltation of watercourses[21]. These phenomena have had a considerable impact on agriculture in the Lake Chilwa basin, with a general decline in productivity and production recorded in both the crop and livestock sectors in recent years. Agricultural decline — in conjunction with the lake's drying — is also contributing to a rapid decrease in the productivity of fisheries. This results from the growing inability of communities to produce adequate amounts of food from agriculture in areas surrounding the lake, which leads to the intensification of unsustainable land-use practices, and further degradation of the terrestrial environment. The consequent decline in crop yields causes an overdependence of local communities on fish from the lake and increases competition for other aquatic resources. For example, there has been an observed increase in the clearing of reeds in riparian and coastal areas of Lake Chilwa — which are critical fish spawning habitats[22] — further impacting the replenishment of fish stocks. Since the 1970s, catches in the lake have decreased considerably, from ~15,000 tonnes/yr to ~5,000 tonnes in 2014[23].

The slow recovery of fish stocks in recent years has also occurred in conjunction with an increase in the use of illegal fishing gear such as mosquito nets. The use of such indiscriminate equipment causes juvenile fish to be captured along with adults, thereby preventing juveniles from reaching maturity and therefore the size at which the maximum sustainable yield (MSY) would be obtained from the stock. While previous initiatives, such as the GEF-funded project entitled ‘Malawi-climate resilient and sustainable capture fisheries, aquaculture development and watershed management’ have included the establishment of community organisations — such as Beach Village Committees (BVCs) — to enforce regulation of natural resource use on the lake, these have had limited human resource and technical capacity to be effective.

Fish catches in Lake Chilwa comprise a large percentage of the total amount of fish caught within Malawi (~14% in 2003[24]). In addition, a large proportion of agricultural produce is sourced from the lake’s catchment areas. For example, 50% of the rice produced in Malawi is grown in the Lake Chilwa basin. As a result, the decreasing productivity of agriculture and fisheries in the area is causing a rapid decline in food security both in the districts surrounding Lake Chilwa, and across Malawi[25]. This subsequent food insecurity will be exacerbated by further reduced water levels in the lake under future climate change scenarios. Climate projections under both RCP4.5 and RCP8.5 indicate further increases in average annual temperatures across the country, with mean annual surface air temperatures expected to rise by 1.1–3°C by 2060, and 1.5–5°C by 2090[26]. Additionally, despite an anticipated increase in total annual rainfall volume, the number of rainfall events is expected to decrease, but with considerable increases in the intensity of each episode and prolonged dry spells between episodes[27]. The frequency of droughts and floods is therefore expected to increase which will heighten the vulnerability of Malawi lake fisheries.

The water temperatures of lakes in Africa, including Lake Chilwa, are evidently also increasing. The full range of impacts of climate change on tropical lakes, however, are not well understood. Some research has indicated that the warming of the deep African rift lake, Lake Tanganyika, has reduced the cycling of nutrients from its depths as well as primary production in the water[28]. In the Lake Chilwa basin specifically, results obtained from the IPCC Fifth Annual Report General Circulation Models (GCMs) under RCP4.5 and 8.5 suggest that water temperatures will increase by an average of 2.6–4.7°C, with carbon dioxide levels in the lake expected to double by the year 2075[29]. These warming water temperatures combined with the abovementioned fluctuating water levels already present in lake Chilwa, will exacerbate threats to the lake’s productivity[30]. Under current climate change conditions, there is already a significant risk of ecosystem collapse in Lake Chilwa — particularly as a result of declining fish resources[31]. This not only exacerbates competition in fisheries as mentioned above, but also conflicts between traditional fisherfolk and newcomers to the area such as farmers who take up fishing. Climate change, therefore, will not only result in reduced fish stocks but also disrupt community relations, increasing the vulnerability of both subsistence farmers and fisherfolk[32].

Root causes

Vulnerability to climate change impacts in Malawi and particularly in the Lake Chilwa basin is driven by inter alia: i) chronic poverty; ii) food and nutrition insecurity; iii) overdependence on natural resources; iv) high exposure to climate hazards and risks; vi) ineffective early warning and disaster risk reduction systems; vii) inadequate climate shock preparedness and weak adaptive capacity of households to withstand recurrent shocks and stresses; viii) limited economic opportunities; and ix) inadequate provisioning of, and access to, social services. The combination of these factors makes the implementation of climate change policy frameworks in Malawi challenging. For example, limited production by the country’s energy supplier — Electricity Generation Company Malawi Limited (Egenco) — has resulted in an increased demand for alternative energy sources. Howeveer, as 86% of the country’s population are reliant on subsistence agriculture and fishing for their livelihoods they have limited financial capacity to source alternative, energy-efficient technologies for, inter alia, cooking and heating. To meet this demand, forest resources are used intensively for fuel wood and charcoal production, supplying both rural areas and urban centres. This, in turn, places pressure on forest and wetland ecosystems, leading to catchment degradation. At the national level, limited financial capital available for the GoM results in insufficient budgetary allocation for climate-adaptive technologies. This financial constraint is exacerbated by extreme climate events that result in severe damages and losses to infrastructure, exposing the GoM to cycles of debt and short-term, reactive spending. As a result, the GoM is severely constrained in terms of allocating funds for climate change adaptation at a local level. Local-level adaptation is further hindered by constrained technical and institutional capacity for the implementation of policies from central government to district councils.

Chronic poverty remains the most severe challenge to improving climate resilience in the Lake Chilwa basin, as it exacerbates several of the other drivers of vulnerability. Because food security and household income are strongly affected by natural resource use and availability, they are major determinants of poverty. Food insecurity is also compounded by poverty because of the need for poor households to engage in livelihood strategies that adversely impact the natural environment. For example, the degradation of terrestrial ecosystems in the Lake Chilwa basin is causing a decline in livelihood productivity as well as a reduction in food security in the region. The decline in livelihood productivity and the continuation of inefficient livelihood strategies are exacerbated by existing development challenges in the Lake Chilwa basin, including inadequate infrastructure and poor linkages to lucrative value chains.

Within the basin, investment in the development of infrastructure — such as rural feeder roads, agro-processing facilities, agricultural technologies, storage facilities and improved markets — is necessary. The challenges around infrastructure are further intensified by high population density (at ~321 people per km2) in areas surrounding the lake, which is among the highest in Malawi. This population density, coupled with rapid population growth and decreasing livelihood productivity in terrestrial landscapes, is causing overcrowding in fishing villages around the lake, placing greater pressure on the aquatic resources within the lake. Moreover, the growing population is increasing the need for products derived from wetland and riparian areas adjacent to the lake. For example, the harvesting of reeds and other plant materials by local communities has contributed to environmental degradation, resulting in siltation of the lake, biodiversity loss and a decrease in fish habitats and spawning sites. The degradation of terrestrial and aquatic resources in the lake basin, in combination with climate change impacts, is resulting in several other challenges for local communities. Examples include: i) an increase in the occurrence of livestock diseases as a result of the degradation of terrestrial ecosystems in conjunction with rising temperatures; and ii) a rising incidence of diseases such as cholera.

Long-term preferred solution

To date, investments in adaptation in Malawi, including in the Lake Chilwa basin, have been largely once-off and sector-specific. The project’s long-term preferred solution to reduce vulnerability to climate change is consequently a sustainable, cross-sectoral transformation of the overarching development trajectory of the Lake Chilwa basin. This should be achieved by a shift away from natural resource degradation and limited livelihood opportunities towards large-scale implementation of EbA and widespread adoption of alternative livelihoods and value chains that build adaptive capacity while contributing to reducing the country’s greenhouse gas emissions. This solution will also see the lessons learned from the Lake Chilwa basin upscaled across the country through policy and private sector models that create green jobs particularly among small, medium and micro enterprises — thereby contributing to recovery from Covid-19 economic damages. The main interventions for achieving the preferred solution in the basin will include: i) enhancing the capacity of communities and institutions to plan, implement and monitor EbA interventions; ii) improving small-scale producers’ access to lucrative markets for climate-resilient products and value chains through diversification of product/service offerings and alternative livelihoods, as well as through a sustainable climate finance facility; and iii) facilitating the adoption of alternative livelihoods. These interventions will see more robust and coordinated relationships between the private sector and small-scale producers, facilitated by concessional financing, improved infrastructure and technologies. This could include, inter alia, roads and transportation infrastructure, telecommunication infrastructure, and equipment such as cold storage facilities to reduce post-harvest losses of harvested commodities. The legal formalisation of institutions and the roles of stakeholders in climate change adaptation and capacity-building processes will also emerge from these interventions.

To achieve the preferred solution, producers and enterprises in the Lake Chilwa basin need to be connected to local and regional markets through the development of climate-resilient technologies and infrastructure based on local knowledge and innovations, as well as improved information sharing around these innovations. For example, improving agro-processing as a value-adding activity for raw fish and agricultural produce would reduce post-harvest losses and enable higher quality products to be sold to lucrative markets through appropriate value chains, while also reducing GHG emissions. Creating effective knowledge-management information platforms targeting value-adding processes, in addition to highlighting the potential for private partnerships in these processes, would support their effective and sustainable uptake. Moreover, the preferred solution will strengthen the development pathway in the Lake Chilwa basin to focus on the most vulnerable communities — particularly women and other marginalised groups such as the youth. The abovementioned infrastructural interventions will be necessary to ensure producers in the basin are able to engage effectively with commercial entities and appropriate value chains. Specifically, small-scale producers in the region require adequate storage facilities, refrigeration equipment and processing machinery such as solar dryers. Additionally, information networks and partnerships are required to enhance collaboration between communities with potential for value chain enhancement and the commercial entities with which market linkages can be established.

A primary feature of the preferred solution would be that communities in the area are able to implement Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA) interventions and better manage the natural resource base on which they depend. This would include reducing the overexploitation of natural resources and restoring ecological infrastructure within forests, riparian areas and wetlands. These interventions would ensure the continued delivery of ecosystem goods and services which would, together with diversified livelihoods and value-addition services, enable vulnerable communities to build their resilience to climate change. Aside from the post-harvest storage and processing interventions already mentioned, communities’ livelihoods will be advanced under the long-term preferred solution through alternative options such as mushroom cultivation, and beekeeping. Widespread adoption of these livelihoods would greatly improve the capacity of vulnerable communities to adapt to the current and projected impacts of climate change, in addition to recovering from the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.




[1] Jørstad, H. and Webersik, C., 2016. Vulnerability to climate change and adaptation strategies of local communities in Malawi: Experiences of women fish processing groups in the Lake Chilwa Basin.

[2] Ibid.

[3] UNFCCC. 2006. Malawi NAPA. Available at: https://unfccc.int/resource/docs/napa/mwi01.pdf

[4] Jeggle, T. and Boggero, M., 2018. Post-disaster needs assessment: Lessons from a decade of experience. World Bank.

[5] Ibid.

[6]Government of Malawi (2019) Malawi 2019 Floods Post Disaster Needs Assessment Report. Available at: https://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/Malawi%202019%20Floods%20Post%20Disaster%20Needs%20Assessment%20Report.pdf

[7]Government of Malawi (2018) Natonal Resilience Strategy 2018–2030. Available at: https://www.usaid.gov/sites/default/files/documents/1860/Malawi_National_Resilience_Strategy.pdf

[8] Jørstad, H. and Webersik, C., 2016. Vulnerability to climate change and adaptation strategies of local communities in Malawi: Experiences of women fish processing groups in the Lake Chilwa Basin.

[10] Jørstad, H. and Webersik, C., 2016. Vulnerability to climate change and adaptation strategies of local communities in Malawi: Experiences of women fish processing groups in the Lake Chilwa Basin.

[14] Njaya, F et al. (2011) ‘The natural history and fisheries ecology of Lake Chilwa, southern Malawi’. Journal of Great Lakes Research 37 (2011) pg. 15–25. DOI: 10.1016/j.jglr.2010.09.008. Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/251590706_The_natural_history_and_fisheries_ecology_of_Lake_Chilwa_southern_Malawi

[15] Kafumbata, D., Jamu, D. and Chiotha, S., 2014. Riparian ecosystem resilience and livelihood strategies under test: lessons from Lake Chilwa in Malawi and other lakes in Africa. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences369(1639), p.20130052.

[16] Jørstad, H. and Webersik, C., 2016. Vulnerability to climate change and adaptation strategies of local communities in Malawi: Experiences of women fish processing groups in the Lake Chilwa Basin.

[17] Ibid.

[18] Ibid.

[19] Ibid.

[20] Ibid.

[21] Ibid.

[22] Kafumbata, D., Jamu, D. and Chiotha, S., 2014. Riparian ecosystem resilience and livelihood strategies under test: lessons from Lake Chilwa in Malawi and other lakes in Africa. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences369(1639), p.20130052.

[23] Kafumbata, D et al. (2014) ‘Riparian ecosystem resilience and livelihood strategies under test: lessons from Lake Chilwa in Malawi and other lakes in Africa’. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 369: 20130052. http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2013.0052

[25] Maloya, H., 2001. Community-Based Natural Resources Management - the case of Lake Chilwa Wetland, Malawi. Available at: https://www.ramsar.org/news/community-based-natural-resources-management-the-case-of-lake-chilwa-wetland-malawi

[26] Republic of Malawi. 2011. The Second National Communication of the Republic of Malawi to the Conference of the Parties (COP) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Available at: https://unfccc.int/resource/docs/natc/mwinc2.pdf

[27] Ibid.

[28] Thiery, W., et al. 2015. The Impact of the African Great Lakes on the Regional Climate. J. Climate, 28.

[29] Republic of Malawi. 2011. The Second National Communication of the Republic of Malawi to the Conference of the Parties (COP) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Available at: https://unfccc.int/resource/docs/natc/mwinc2.pdf

[30] Thiery, W., et al. 2015. The Impact of the African Great Lakes on the Regional Climate. J. Climate, 28.

[32] Ibid.

 

Level of Intervention: 
Primary Beneficiaries: 
40,000 direct beneficiaries, 1.5 million indirect beneficiaries
Implementing Agencies & Partnering Organizations: 
Malawi Ministry of Forestry and Natural Resources
Global Environment Facility (GEF)
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
Project Status: 
Source of Funds Approval/Endorsement
Location: 
Urban
Financing Amount: 
US$4.4 million
Co-Financing Total: 
US$21.4 million

Key Results and Outputs

Component 1: Enhancing cross-sectoral technical capacity for climate change adaptation in Malawi

Under Component 1, the preparatory and institutional environment required for gender-sensitive climate change adaptation planning, implementation, monitoring and financing will be developed. This will be done by strengthening the capacity of community-level institutions to plan for Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA) in the Lake Chilwa basin area, and to develop the enabling environment for these actions under Components 2 and 3 of the project. Through the decentralisation of governance for climate change adaptation and environmental sustainability, district councils are responsible for identifying risks and responding to the climate crisis by using appropriate adaptation interventions. The additional resources from LDCF will enable the TRANSFORM project to support district councils to integrate climate change adaptation (including monitoring interventions and impacts) into their district development planning and budgeting. This will subsequently allow for the creation of effective systems to supporting communities in identifying and implementing community-based adaptation initiatives. The proposed project will also ensure that the relevant community- and district-level institutions obtain the required technical and operational capacity to coordinate responses across the district, as well as sustain innovations and infrastructure investments made during project implementation in the long term. These interventions will be implemented in a gender-sensitive manner, with equitable benefits provided to women and youth.

Outcome 1: Strengthened capacity of community-level institutions and non-state actors to plan, implement and monitor Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA).

Output 1.1. An EbA Plan — with an integrated management framework — that identifies climate change vulnerability and ecosystem degradation hotspots, developed for each target district through direct engagement of community stakeholders (including women and the youth).

Under this output, participatory cross-sectoral EbA plans — with a specific focus on women and youth — will be developed for each of the three target districts. These long-term plans will build on short- to medium-term plans developed during the PPG phase, with on-the-ground interventions as detailed within the plans finalised and rolled out during implementation. This will include the identification of climate change vulnerability and ecosystem degradation hotspots which will be targeted for the implementation of interventions under Outcome 2 of the project. In addition, a Community-Based Resilience Analysis (CoBRA) will be used to identify priority adaptation actions for each of the identified hotspots in line with national priorities and strategies such as the National Forest Landscape Restoration Strategy (NFLRS). The EbA plans will also include an integrated cross-sectoral management framework to ensure alignment between the individual EbA plan of each target district, as well as existing district planning frameworks, to ensure the effective implementation of EbA across the Lake Chilwa basin. Moreover, these EbA plans will use lessons learned from and build upon similar plans for natural resource management developed under the GEF-funded project entitled Malawi-climate resilient and sustainable capture fisheries, aquaculture development and watershed management project. These plans will strongly focus on improving the sustainability of fisheries in Malawi’s lakes through improved community-led and climate-smart catchment management. This will ensure complementarity with baseline investments in Malawian fisheries, while avoiding duplication of interventions. Moreover, in line with the transformative nature of the proposed project, the EbA plans under this output will draw on those from the previous GEF project to scale up EbA across the entire basin, and deliver community-wide benefits that ultimately have a major socio-economic and environmental impact across the entire area.

In preparation for the development of the EbA plans described above, district- and community-level institutions — particularly youth and women’s groups — will be trained to plan, implement and monitor EbA plans. This will improve the technical capacity of these institutions to enhance community resilience in a gender-sensitive manner. The scope of the training will include: i) interpretation of climate information and projections, as well as the expected impacts; ii) identifying feasible adaptation approaches to address the impacts of climate change with a focus on EbA; iii) planning the identified adaptation approaches in the local context; iv) overseeing the implementation of adaptation approaches at the district and community levels; and v) monitoring of interventions after implementation. Accordingly, the capacity-building activities will comprise education, information and awareness-raising sessions for priority institutions on the importance of EbA, as well as its relevance to reducing the vulnerability of these institutions. In addition, technical training workshops will be hosted in each district to subsequently enhance the technical capacity of these institutions to plan, monitor and implement EbA — building on the knowledge and understanding augmented by the educational sessions.

This individual and institutional capacity building will ensure the retention of institutional knowledge on EbA within the Lake Chilwa basin, and in turn, reduce the impacts of high staff turnover, that may threaten the sustained use of EbA. The retention of institutional knowledge will also be supported by the knowledge-management hub created under Output 3.5. The capacity-building training will focus on the natural resources within and around the lake and wetlands in the basin, with a specific emphasis on ecosystem services and long-term benefits of, for example, sustainable fishing practices. Training will be provided on the impacts of climate change on natural resources within the lake and surrounding ecosystems, the management and monitoring of these resources, as well as monitoring of climatic and non-climatic impacts to the natural resource base. This training will be supplemented by education on the provisioning of ecosystem services and how to maintain them not only for the benefit of livelihoods but also to reduce the risk of climate hazards on communities.

Output 1.2. Framework Investment Plan for sustainable climate-resilient livelihoods and value chains developed for each target district, in line with the EbA plans developed under Output 1.1.

Under this output, a climate-resilient Framework Investment Plan (FIP) will be developed for private sector investment catalysed under Component 3. Specifically, these FIPs will be operationalised using financial resources mobilised through a newly established Sustainable Climate Financing Facility (SCFF) under Output 3.1. Output 1.2 will include establishing partnerships between smallholder farmers and micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), to enable stronger engagement between communities and the private sector in the Lake Chilwa basin. The development of the FIP will be undertaken in a gender-sensitive manner and will include assessments on different investment opportunities, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of different markets. Currently, vulnerable communities are not adequately engaging with lucrative value chains because of the limited availability of established networks and business relationships for connecting private sector investors to local-level producers. The FIP will catalyse a shift towards a scenario where improved linkages between these entities are established. Output 1.3 will include the identification of potential target areas for investment, as well as MSMEs that can be selected for technical support under Output 3.2, to enhance the climate resilience and environmental sustainability of their operations. Precedents have already been established in Malawi for the use of investment plans and funds towards climate change adaptation. For example, at a national level the National Climate Change Investment Plan was operationalised in 2014 to ensure that there is increased and coordinated investment in climate change[1]. In addition, the Strategic Programme for Climate Resilience (2017) includes potential entry points for investment and a framework for attracting financial resources from the private sector, international finance institutions (such as the GEF), national resources, and other financing windows[2]. These strategies and plans will inform the design of the FIP under Output 1.2, ensuring they build on previous gains towards attracting external investment for increased climate resilience of livelihoods in Malawi.

Along with upscaling previous programmes, plans and initiatives, the proposed project will result in novel outcomes to ensure a transformative shift in concessional funding for enterprise development in the region. Specifically, transformation will be achieved through additional measures such as only allocating funds to MSMEs with enhanced technical capacity and financial literacy (developed under the proposed project) and therefore increased climate resilience. This will ensure the sustainability of business operations for selected ventures, thereby increasing the likelihood of success of their expansion/diversification activities as well as the impact that the concessional funding will have. Novel features of the FIP that will transform this output from a business-as-usual approach will be: i) financial literacy training (which has not been formally conducted in Malawi before); ii) planning for allocation of funds across a wide range of subsectors and business activities; iii) dedication of funds specifically for the adoption of innovative and energy-efficient technologies; iv) accelerated application processes for ventures with demonstrable skills and knowledge of adaptation options; and v) dedicated allocation of a considerable proportion of funds for women and youth-run enterprises.

Component 2: Implementation of EbA and sustainable climate-resilient livelihoods

Vulnerable communities in the Lake Chilwa basin strongly depend on ecosystem goods and services to support their livelihoods. The TRANSFORM project will complement the National Forest Landscape Restoration Strategy to protect and strengthen ecosystem health for the sustained flow of goods and services to local communities. Component 2 will enable the implementation of EbA plans developed under Component 1, in line with national priorities and strategies. In addition, Component 2 will include the development of a community-based ecosystem monitoring and reporting (M&R) system — leveraging support from extension services — which will ensure the sustainability and scalability of EbA interventions. Using an integrated, cross-sectoral approach, the project will also facilitate the implementation of viable, community-based adaptation practices which include alternative livelihoods, climate-resilient agricultural practices, and small-scale, nature-based businesses. Such activities will be undertaken by resource-poor members of the community, the majority of which are women and the youth. The community-based adaptation practices supported by the project will therefore specifically benefit these vulnerable community members, drawing on best practices and lessons learned from Adapt Plan’s promotion of diversified livelihoods, such as the processing and selling of NTFPs. In addition to upscaling the Adapt Plan project, the proposed GEF project will introduce new and alternative livelihood options to ensure a transformative shift away from unsustainable land-use practices. Novel to the proposed project will also be the enhanced capacity to maintain these livelihoods, through participatory community-based monitoring of natural resources.

Outcome 2. Reduced vulnerability of communities in target districts to climate change through the implementation of EbA interventions and the introduction of sustainable climate-resilient livelihoods.

Output 2.1. EbA interventions, such as catchment restoration, soil conservation techniques and water-efficient technologies, implemented in vulnerability hotspots.

Under Output 2.1, Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA) interventions such as the restoration of riparian areas, wetlands, and catchments will be implemented in a gender-sensitive manner. This will improve the flow of ecosystem services — including regulation of the hydrological cycle, soil conservation and erosion control — thereby building the climate resilience of communities surrounding the Lake Chilwa basin. Specific EbA-related activities to be implemented in each target district will be identified and costed during the PPG phase. As a co-benefit, EbA interventions will help to alleviate some of the primary drivers of environmental degradation in the region, such as deforestation caused by unsustainable charcoal production, which contribute to an overreliance of households on resources within the lake and surrounding areas. In particular, the negative impacts on fish stocks (linked to the decreasing productivity of surrounding agricultural areas) will be reduced. Additional EbA measures to reduce the dependence of local communities on the use of wood for charcoal production will include the introduction of processing technologies for fuel-efficient briquette production using agricultural waste products, such as rice husks. This will reduce the dependence on forest ecosystem resources as well as pressure placed on the wider natural resource base in the target area. To facilitate this shift, briquette-making communities will receive assistance from relevant, upskilled institutions, in particular on the construction of appropriate infrastructure such as beds for drying of agricultural waste. In addition, access to inputs such as water will be subsidised, highly concessional, or provided at a reasonable cost, thereby promoting fuel briquettes as a productive commercial sector. Further research will also be conducted to assess the potential supply of a wide range of biomass materials and quality of varieties of fuel briquettes. Increased demand for briquettes among communities will be achieved through marketing efforts and value-adding activities such as packaging, labelling and awareness-raising on the benefits of fuel-efficient briquettes.

Additional interventions that supplement EbA activities to increase water-use efficiency and improve the supply of water in the region, will include inter alia: i) household water harvesting systems and post-harvest storage[3]; ii) the adoption of improved irrigation technologies (for example drip irrigation systems); iii) the stabilisation of riverbanks using green infrastructure to reduce erosion; and iv) a shift to agroforestry systems. Agroforestry will improve agricultural productivity, and ecosystem service provisioning, including soil conservation and erosion control regulation of the hydrological cycle — for example, through improvements in the quality and quantity of water resources in the region as a result of increased infiltration. Agroforestry-related activities under this output will build on interventions previously implemented under other projects, such as the GEF-funded project titled Malawi-climate resilient and sustainable capture fisheries, aquaculture development and watershed management project. These agroforestry and conservation farming practices will be implemented across 3,000 ha of agricultural areas. Under the proposed project, the land area under agroforestry systems will be expanded to include additional communities. This will contribute to increasing the area in the Lake Chilwa basin under improved management practices and extend the reach of direct and indirect adaptation benefits to more people in the Lake Chilwa basin. Moreover, novel agroforestry systems will be introduced to encompass a wide range of communities and ecosystems ensuring the unique needs of each target community are met and that their natural resources are appropriately managed.

Output 2.2. Community-based ecosystem Monitoring and Reporting (M&R) system established in each target district to support enhanced natural resource management and compliance with environmental regulations.

Under this output, an M&R system will be established in support of an integrated approach to the maintenance of ecosystem health, ensuring inter alia: i) effective environmental management; ii) compliance with relevant regulations; and iii) eventual self-regulation of communities surrounding Lake Chilwa. This will complement the EbA plans to be developed under Output 1.1, providing the means for not only supporting enhanced natural resource management, but also for establishing an evidence base from which EbA plans may be iteratively revised and refined to inform further action. The establishment of the M&R will include a comprehensive valuation of ecosystem services in the project area, informing the baseline upon which M&R will be undertaken, and to determine the contribution of the proposed project’s interventions over time.

The M&R system established under this output will be designed and operationalised in line with local and district planning frameworks to build on and improve previously established systems for monitoring natural resources and reporting on their overexploitation or unsustainable use. For example, communities will be trained on the importance of monitoring degradation or threats to the target areas’ natural resource base (such as the use of illegal fishing nets), as well as how to measure and report these threats to the relevant authorities. In addition, communities will also work towards ensuring that sustainable land-practices continue beyond the project’s lifespan to maintain benefits associated with adaptation interventions. Communities will be fully engaged in monitoring natural resources and ecosystem threats, as by understanding the associated benefits of adaptation they will be more invested in ensuring long-term sustainability of project interventions. Such community engagement in M&R will discourage perpetuating a ‘tragedy of the commons’ situation as community members will be reluctant to continue unsustainable practices if aware of being monitored and potential penalties for non-compliance. Not only will this apply to lake and wetland resources, but forest ecosystems as well, with individuals less likely to engage in charcoal production and other activities that degrade the landscape. This approach will be facilitated in particular by beach village committees (BVCs), who will assist with training alongside extension services.

BVCs — first established under the GEF-funded project entitled Malawi-climate resilient and sustainable capture fisheries, aquaculture development and watershed management project — will be used to operationalise the M&R system. These committees were selected because they possess the appropriate skills and knowledge, such as an understanding of the applicable environmental laws and regulations, for effective management of lake resources. The proposed project will in so doing align with previous investments working on enhanced compliance, thereby promoting the sustainability of interventions under both projects. In addition, this output will augment the achievements of previous projects by extending M&R responsibilities beyond BVCs to include community institutions around protected areas. This will be facilitated by the implementation of monitoring systems that are strongly technology-oriented and community-based. For example, the use of GIS-enabled incident-recording/reporting devices and unmanned arial vehicles (UAVs), such as drones, will provide information not only to communities for natural-resource management, but also to potential entrepreneurs and investors. The training will be delivered to enhance the technical and human resource capacity of communities surrounding Lake Chilwa for enforcement of relevant laws and regulations, as well as M&R. While the M&R systems will be designed for each individual district, knowledge-sharing and collaboration will be encouraged between districts through the knowledge management hub established under Component 3 of the proposed project. This will be done by ensuring that the information generated through M&R will be fed into the hub, and that provision is made for effective sharing of this knowledge between districts.

To provide comprehensive support to the community-based M&R systems, a training-of-trainers approach will be used to incorporate knowledge-management and -sharing into the proposed project by providing operational and technical support to extension services. This will be to allow extension service officers to transfer knowledge and expertise to BVCs, and other stakeholders operating within the M&R system, to ensure effective, on-the-ground implementation and maintenance of the system. During the lifetime of the project this training system will allow local communities to monitor the success of proposed interventions (for example, seedling survival rates for restoration efforts), as well as report on stakeholder engagement and other targets established to determine the success of the project. In addition, community members will be trained on reporting on the attendance of training sessions by various groups, as well as on whether gender-related targets are being met. This support will enable M&R efforts to extend beyond the project lifespan, ensuring the sustainability of interventions.

Output 2.3. Sustainable climate-resilient livelihoods implemented in target communities through the provision of training (including at least 50% women), provision of start-up inputs (such as beekeeping equipment) as well as the development of partnerships with local suppliers and value chain service providers (through technical advisory services).

Under Output 2.3, support will be provided to relevant stakeholders to enable vulnerable communities — particularly women and youth — to shift from unsustainable, climate-vulnerable livelihoods and income streams, such as charcoal production, to a situation where the adoption of climate-resilient livelihoods is a feasible and readily-available option. This will occur through, inter alia, the upscaling of existing initiatives for the production and sale of NTFPs — including mushroom cultivation and products derived from beekeeping enterprises — as well as the development of fishery and agricultural value chains. Specifically, the mechanism used to achieve the shift towards sustainable climate resilient livelihoods will include three stages across the development period. First, during the PPG phase of the project, information will be gathered on forest, wetland and lake users and resource use, extent of different ecosystems, the condition of natural resources in the ecosystems, and forest-based livelihood opportunities. The second stage will involve negotiation of ecosystem management plans and agreements (including rights and responsibilities of community-, district- and government-level institutions), and securing formal legal structures for these agreements. Finally, empowered communities will implement their management plans and uphold any legal agreements, with full local and national government support. During the PPG phase, appropriate alternative, climate-resilient livelihoods that align with the EbA action plans developed under Output 1.1. and are suitable for adoption by local communities will be identified using Community-Based Resilience Analysis (CoBRA). In addition, to ensure equitable and gender-responsive efforts towards the adoption of alternative livelihoods, local communities in target districts (including at least 50% women) will also be trained on sustainable climate-resilient livelihoods, with a focus on the implementation, maintenance and monitoring of EbA interventions, therefore complementing Outputs 2.1 and 2.2. This will build upon and expand the introduction of alternative and complementary rural livelihoods under a previous GEF-funded project[4]. While this project focused solely on aquaculture-based livelihoods, the proposed TRANSFORM project will introduce and implement a wider variety of livelihoods, including beekeeping and mushroom farming. In addition, the proposed project will be implemented in communities that the previous GEF-funded project did not focus on. This will result in the provision of alternative livelihoods to the entire population of the basin. To further support livelihood security of vulnerable communities in the target area, rural-urban business linkages will be established. This will facilitate aggregation by enhancing the ability of MSMEs and other enterprises to access district and city markets by inter alia ensuring harvested commodities meet market standards.

To support the implementation and uptake of sustainable climate-resilient livelihoods in the Lake Chilwa basin, inputs will be provided to local communities who require improved equipment and infrastructure. This will take the form of ‘starter kits’ for the establishment of NTFP-centred businesses, and will include goods, materials and equipment such as beehives and protective beekeeping equipment, or mushroom-growing kits. These starter kits will enable communities to smoothly transition to alternative, climate-resilient livelihoods. Moreover, improved farming technologies, processing equipment and infrastructure to prevent post-harvest losses — which have been identified as barriers to enhancing the livelihood resilience in the target area — will be supplied. In addition, support will be provided to transfer appropriate knowledge and skills that will facilitate the establishment of partnerships between or across local communities, the private sector, government institutions and agricultural and fishery organisations. By establishing and strengthening connections between these entities, a collaborative environment will be fostered which will contribute to sustainably enhancing livelihood and climate-resilience across value chains and economic sectors — as opposed to limiting the uptake of climate-resilient livelihoods to unsustainable handouts from donors.

To increase the likelihood of success regarding the uptake of sustainable climate-resilient livelihoods, local communities will be trained on their adoption. By increasing the awareness and familiarity of the additional livelihoods, as well as the associated techniques and skills, local communities will develop confidence in the uptake and maintenance of those livelihoods. This will facilitate the effective and efficient transition away from current unsustainable fishing, farming and land-use practices. To complement this training on livelihoods, awareness will be raised surrounding climate change hazards, risks and impacts to better develop local communities’ understanding of the need for adaptation and the adoption of sustainable, climate-resilient livelihoods and technologies.

Component 3: Enhancing market linkages for private sector investment in adaptation options and climate-resilient enterprises

Component 3 of the proposed project will ensure the sustainability and replicability of interventions implemented under Component 1 and Component 2 by catalysing private sector investment in climate-resilient enterprises. These investments will lead to the upscaling of EbA and alternative livelihoods across the Lake Chilwa basin and the rest of Malawi. To achieve this, the proposed project under Component 3 will design and operationalise a sustainable funding facility, strengthen linkages between market actors across value chains, and share information between market actors through a market information hub. As a multifaceted approach will be adopted, beneficiaries will extend beyond formally registered businesses to include both artisanal producers as well as aspiring young and/or female entrepreneurs. These interventions will be complemented by the establishment of a knowledge management hub, which will enable the sharing of information between stakeholders to inform the development of similar projects in the Basin. Whereas the market information hub will benefit entrepreneurs and MSMEs, the knowledge management hub will primarily be used by local and national level decision makers when exploring potential development options for enhanced climate resilience. In so doing, the upscaling of previous investments in the project area and across Malawi will be promoted in a locally appropriate and context-specific manner. Details on these interventions are presented below.

Outcome 3. Enhanced private sector investment in and strengthened market linkages for sustainable, climate-resilient enterprises to provide communities with alternative sources of income.

Output 3.1 A sustainable climate finance facility established to stimulate private sector investment for MSMEs, with a new CCA funding window opened under the MICF, provision of technical assistance and strengthening of the microfinance industry, for innovation in climate-resilient livelihoods, enterprises and technologies.

Under this output, access to finance for building climate-resilient livelihoods and businesses will be enhanced for MSMEs, farmers and fisherfolk in the Lake Chilwa basin. This enhanced access to finance will be achieved by establishing a new adaptation finance facility, by providing technical training and support, and by facilitating access to microfinance. Details on each of these sub-components of this output are provided below. The baseline upon which the project will build includes existing credit lines provided by funds, commercial banks and microfinance institutions. The additional and innovative interventions to be implemented by the proposed project include: establishing funding windows and financial products dedicated to climate change adaptation investments; training a wide range of stakeholders to access the credit lines and to climate-proof their business operations and value chains; and establishing community-based credit and saving associations to facilitate access to microfinance for artisanal farmers and fisherfolk with negligible collateral to implement adaptation interventions.

Finance facility. A new facility — the Sustainable Climate Finance Facility (SCFF) — will be established to enable private sector investors to invest in innovative, climate-resilient livelihoods, enterprises and value chains. GEF resources will be used to establish the facility and provide technical support for its management, but will not be used to capitalise it. The capital will be sourced from the private sector (in accordance with climate-resilient Framework Investment Plans (FIP) developed under Output 1.3), and in particular through the existing and well-established Malawi Innovation Challenge Fund (MICF) that is managed by UNDP. A dedicated window within the MICF will be created for climate change adaptation and for assisting in the capitalisation of the SCFF. While the MICF has already successfully launched and closed other funding windows — most recently for tourism — the SCFF will be focussed on the Lake Chilwa basin and will therefore be the first geographically targeted window under the MICF. This geographically targeted funding window will serve as a model for financing similar projects in the future. It should be noted that the MICF will only serve as the initial platform upon which the SCFF will be established, and that the SCFF will be upscaled nationally under the National Climate Change Fund (NCCF), which is currently under development. The vision of the GoM is that the operationalisation of the SCFF will be achieved under the MICF, but that the facility will be transferred to the newly established NCCF. The NCCF is envisioned to be financed through carbon levies collected by the GoM which have been earmarked for environmental actions, as outlined in the Environmental Management Act of 2017. Funds collected through these levies will be ring-fenced for these actions — including those aimed at improved climate resilience — which will ensure institutional permanence in the environmental sector. Currently, the NCCF is not yet fully operational, as further work on its governance arrangement and technical capacity for undertaking its work is required. Therefore, the MICF, which has a fully functioning institutional structure and comprehensive technical capacity, will be a more suitable platform for the initial stages of setting up the SCFF, until the NCCF has been fully operationalised. This arrangement will ensure the effective transfer of technical and institutional capacity from the MICF to the NCCF.

For the capitalisation of the SCFF through the funding window established under the MICF, the private sector in Malawi will be directly approached to assist in through, for example, socially responsible investment products within the banking sector. Such products include socially responsible mutual funds. If there is insufficient capital raised within Malawi, international banks and investors focussing on ethical investment strategies will be approached to invest in these products offered by the Malawian banks.

Based on extensive consultations during the PIF preparation it has been identified that there is considerable interest within the international community for investments that assist in uplifting poor communities in addition to providing nature-based solutions to climate change. However, given the limited technical and institutional capacity among local communities for engaging in high-value markets, such investments remain high risk. Consequently, there remains a need to de-risk investments into uplifting communities by increasing their knowledge of and skills for value-addition in agriculture and fisheries, as well as by improving their awareness of the impacts of climate change, and increasing social accountability in natural resource use. It is consequently envisaged that there will be a strong demand for well-structured, socially responsible investment products from Malawi. Such products would include a strong focus on gender and social safeguards. Local Malawian banks will benefit from the sale of these types of investment products, not only through the commissions earned on the products, but also because it will contribute to their corporate social responsibility objectives. The proposed project will assist the Malawian banks in developing the products in an appropriate manner for attracting local and international investors, and then in managing the products and disbursing loans to eligible stakeholders in the Lake Chilwa basin.      

Technical training and support. The project will provide technical training and support — through, for example, workshops, training events and continuous technical advisory services — to the MICF, SCFF, MSMEs, artisans, farmers, and fisherfolk. This wide range of stakeholders is necessary to ensure that the funding mechanisms function effectively and that local communities will be in a position to use these mechanisms to finance their climate-resilient livelihoods.

The training for the MICF and SCFF will focus on climate change adaptation and investment opportunities for building climate resilience in the Lake Chilwa basin, but also Malawi as a whole. In this way, the project will support the upscaling of the MICF’s activities country-wide[5].

Training for MSMEs, artisans, farmers and fisherfolk in the project’s target districts (with a strong focus on women and youth) will be tailor-made for their individual needs in a particular district and will include topics such as: climate change; financial literacy; business operations, including basic accounting; opening of bank accounts; accessing micro-finance through organisations such as community-based village banks and saving associations; accessing commercial bank loans; compliance with legal requirements; registering of companies; reporting on the performance of their operations to funders; management of natural resources under climate change conditions; reducing post-harvest losses despite climate change conditions; meeting quality standards developed by buyers such as supermarkets and restaurants; diversifying products under climate change conditions; accessing new and higher value markets; and attracting investors. This training will be complemented by the partnerships established between local communities, extension services, CBOs, farmers, buyers and private sector enterprises under Output 3.2. Through the above-described training and these partnerships, a wide range of investments for MICF, SCFF, commercial banks and micro-finance institutions will be derisked.

Access to microfinance. Community-based credit and saving associations will be established by the project where local communities are supportive of such an intervention. Such associations have been demonstrated to be highly effective in similar rural settings in Kenya, where models known as the ‘village banking model’ and ‘self-help group bank’ have been adopted. The advantages of these associations include the following: little or no collateral is necessary to take out a loan, as the group as a whole provides the guarantee for each individual’s loan; records on returns on investment and performance of individual members are filed and can be used by individuals or MSMEs for accessing more traditional sources of credit through commercial banks; and records from the associations can be used to show private sector investors the impacts of their investments at a granular scale. In the past, the functionality of community-based credit and saving associations would have been compromised in rural areas because of difficulties in accessing banks. Today, however, remote mobile banking services are offered in Malawi through services such as Airtel Money or M-Pesa[6]. Because these banking service providers use SMS’s to operate, it can provide village bank members with access to banking services, despite having no internet access or being in remote locations.

Examples of activities to build climate resilience in the Lake Chilwa basin that could be financed by the MICF, the SCFF or community-based credit and saving associations include: cold storage facilities to reduce post-harvest loss from fish catches under increasing temperatures; kilns used for the production of energy-efficient briquettes; beekeeping equipment, including processing machinery to derive multiple products from hives; mushroom-growing kits; and water-saving irrigation systems such as drip irrigation or micro-sprayers. These activities will not be considered in isolation, but rather analysed in relation to the value chains within which they are situated. The project will provide technical advisory services to assist the above funds and associations in ensuring that appropriate investments are made across entire value chains to prevent breaks in these chains having detrimental effects on businesses and operations situated elsewhere in the chains.

An important component of the training of MSMEs, artisans, farmers, and fisherfolk within the project will be to highlight how the long-term benefits from enhanced access to finance, the implementation of new technologies and improved efficiency of their operations will only accrue if there is sustainable management of their natural resources under climate change conditions. Through this training the project will ensure that the private sector in the basin understands that that natural resources underpin their businesses and livelihoods and that these natural resources are currently under threat from over-harvesting and climate change impacts. In so doing, the project will facilitate a shift in societal mindset so that private and public sector organisations and local communities work together to harvest the natural resources in the basin sustainably and seek to build the climate resilience of the various ecosystems present in the basin. This collaborative work will be undertaken in Output 1.1 and 2.1 through the development and implementation of participatory EbA plans with integrated management frameworks.

Output 3.2. Partnerships established between communities, extension services, CBOs, farmers, buyers and private sector enterprises, including through the development of a market information hub and introduction of technologies that will increase access to, and strengthen, high-value markets.

Building on Output 3.1, networks will be created to further encourage collaboration between and within all links in agricultural and fishery value chains. These networks will be developed in a gender-sensitive manner and will comprise partnerships that connect inter alia private sector entities, public institutions, small-scale producers and extension services, thereby enhancing interaction between currently siloed business operations within the Lake Chilwa basin. Partnerships will be fostered particularly through the establishment of information hubs, which facilitate knowledge transfer and provide networking opportunities. The hubs will promote the uptake of improved technologies, the accessing of support services (under Output 3.1) and other activities to enhance the investment potential of MSMEs and small-scale producers in the target area. This will in part be achieved by raising awareness on the potential economic and social development gains from increasing access of climate-resilient enterprises and alternative livelihoods to high value markets.

Output 3.3. Knowledge management hub established to enable documentation and dissemination of best practices generated under the project.

Under this output, knowledge-management and -sharing will be enabled through the collection and dissemination of best practices and lessons learned elucidated under the proposed GEF project. This will take the form of, inter alia, a knowledge-management hub that will gather, record and archive the successes and areas for improvement with regards to project interventions. As a result, communities within and between districts will be able to share information on enhancing the climate-resilience of alternative livelihoods, as well as advice on how to improve both the financial viability and environmental sustainability of their business ventures. In addition, an annual event will be hosted by the hub, bringing together local and national stakeholders. These stakeholders will include private sector entities, NGOs, CBOs, government departments, smallholders and MSMEs — as well as universities, and research and higher education institutions to spearhead knowledge generation. Knowledge management activities under this output will directly complement those implemented under the GEF-funded project entitled Malawi-climate resilient and sustainable capture fisheries, aquaculture development and watershed management project.

Complementarity will be ensured by using existing climate information services, developed under the previous project, to inform knowledge management and dissemination specifically for enhanced climate resilience of livelihoods. This will for example align with improved fisheries management through knowledge generation about climate risks and vulnerability in the fisheries sector at district level, under the previous GEF fisheries project. To provide a transformative approach, however, the proposed project will ensure the knowledge hub connects all value chain actors, using relevant technologies to establish and strengthen these linkages, as well as enabling communities to access high value markets. Finally, a further novel feature of the proposed project will be the development and integration of an IT-supported PC/smartphone application to drive the use of the hub.




[1] UNDP. 2014. Malawi Government launches National Climate Change Investment Plan.

[2] Republic of Malawi. 2017. Strategic Programme for Climate Resilience: Malawi.

[3] Reduced wastage improves efficiency, which reduces the need for expanding agriculture to meet demand.

[4] The previous project is entitled Malawi-climate resilient and sustainable capture fisheries, aquaculture development and watershed management project. Available at: https://www.thegef.org/sites/default/files/project_documents/d4c0fcd6-4bec-e911-a83a-000d3a375590_PIF_0.pdf

[5] As a traditional challenge fund, the MICF does not currently provide technical assistance to companies, but this may be redressed through a subsidiary contract with a technical assistance provider that will be identified during the PPG phase.

[7] UNDP. 2015. Report on the review of the second national decentralisation strategy. Available at: https://info.undp.org/docs/pdc/Documents/MWI/Final%20NDP%20II%20Review%20Report%20-25%20July%202015.pdf

[8] Please refer to Section 6: Coordination.

 

Contacts

UNDP
Muyeye Chambwera
Regional Technical Advisor