Country Brief: How can we improve the use of information for a climate-resilient Malawi? (February 2020)



This brief presents the main research findings from the Future Climate for Africa UMFULA project that are relevant for policy and practice on how to integrate climate information and increase resilience to climate change in Malawi. The research team is grateful to all the stakeholders who informed and helped shape these results and hope that this summary note is of value in planning a more climate resilient future for Malawi.

Key messages Ÿ

  • Understanding the likely future nature of climate risk is necessary for adaptation and long-term climateresilient planning via the National Resilience Strategy and essential for the National Planning Commission. Ÿ

  • Malawi’s geographical location, between the east and southern African climate systems, means that future climate (particularly rainfall) is challenging to predict accurately – although there are areas of agreement in climate models, notably higher temperatures and higher likelihood of extreme weather events.

  • Given future uncertainty, it is important to design robust management options that work across the plausible range of future climate conditions, especially for large investments with long life-times, significant impacts and irreversibility, such as water-related infrastructure (e.g. hydropower or irrigation) & agricultural investments in crop-breeding. Ÿ

  • Decision-making under uncertainty approaches help to understand tradeoffs for decisions such as meeting water needs and allocating water for irrigation, energy production and environmental services. Ÿ

  • Careful planning is needed for the agricultural sector that is highly sensitive to temperature changes, including both subsistence and commodity crops (such as tea and sugar). Ÿ

  • Greater efforts should focus on the uptake of climate information by smallholder farmers – Participatory Scenario Planning has the potential to generate credible, legitimate and salient information that is both useable and used by farmers. Ÿ

  • Achieving coherence between sectoral policies requires a more supportive institutional environment for sustainable and resilient decision-making. Ÿ

  • Co-design and use of capacitybuilding activities, taking into account institutional needs, is essential for effectively responding to climate change. Ÿ

  • Modelling studies show that Tanzanian catchments contribute over half of the water to Lake Malawi in some years. This requires careful trans-boundary management of water resources in coming decades to avoid a situation where there is no outflow from Lake Malawi into the Shire River.