Posts tagged ‘Malawi’

May 8, 2015

Malawi: Government Rehabilitates Water Plant

George Mhango
May 8, 2015

The Malawi Government has completed rehabilitation of Mudi Pumping Station and Walkers Ferry Treatment Plant as well as the construction of three reservoirs, each with a capacity of 5 000 cubic metres together with their booster stations, pumping and supply pipelines in Blantyre.This is according to the President of Malawi Peter Mutharika.

President of Malawi Peter Mutharika

President of Malawi Peter Mutharika

Mutharika says such works will go a long way in alleviating acute water shortages in the city of Blantyre.

“Government further is commenced to upgrading works on Kamuzu Barrage in Liwonde in order to address the structural stability concerns of the barrage and to improve its water regulatory capacity

“We finalized construction of Songwe Water Supply System; and undertook integration and expansion of Salima Lakeshore and Kasungu Water Supply Schemes,” he says.

Mutharika also notes that government will rehabilitate and expand twelve gravity fed schemes that will entail construction of 600 cubic metres localized storage reservoirs and break pressure tanks and 2,925 Communal Water Points.

“In addition, we will commence construction of 450 new boreholes and 166 sanitation facilities at public institutions such as schools, health and market centres,” he says.

October 22, 2014

Malawi: Farmers Turn to Climate-Smart Agriculture to Outsmart Climate Change

George Mhango
October 22, 2014

Mable Msukwa, 20, a teaching student at Amalika TTC in Thyolo—Southern Region of Malawi— has had reservations for the Farm Inputs Subsidy Programme [FISP] or you may call it fertiliser subsidy programme.

Msukwa thinks that the programme dilutes soil fertility, depends heavily on good rainfall pattern and contributes to conflicts between ruling party zealots and the opposition on how beneficiaries are identified.

Mable Msukwa, a teaching student

Mable Msukwa, a teaching student

During the 2013/2014 some traditional leaders and some ruling party officials were arrested in connection with alleged corruption-related issues in how they distributed the coupons used by any beneficiary to procure fertiliser.

Said Msukwa: “If Malawi experiences droughts then the whole fertiliser project, pegged at $113 million this year, would be a flop; hence, the need for experts and scientists to search for alternatives in view of climate change effects on agriculture.”

This is why Msukwa is advocating for potholing system through farmers clubs championed by Development Aid from People to People [DAPP] in its catchment areas. DAPP operates in Malawi’s three regions providing education, agriculture, health and business projects.

The system complements Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) championed by New Economic Partnership for Africa development (NEPAD) through Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP).

Extreme weather events are becoming more frequent and more severe, threatening the reliability and productivity of agriculture, exacerbating already extreme levels of poverty, and reinforcing persistent inequity and chronic under-nutrition.

And now Malawi has demonstrated that such problems can only be solved through the widespread adoption of more resilient, productive, sustainable, equitable and increasingly efficient farming practices in line with CAADP’s initiative through Climate Smart Agriculture.

During a recent training workshop for journalists in Nairobi, Kenya, NEPAD officials—said adopting Climate-Smart Agriculture practices can reduce the risks faced by smallholder farmers, as well as mitigate the effects of extreme weather events on farms.

To substantiate this, DAPP in Malawi started implementing the system through farmers clubs in 2006 in Lilongwe, Chiradzulu and Zomba with funding from the US Department of Agriculture, before it took the concept to Thyolo District recently.

As it stands now, various students in DAPP training colleges are working on the system with communities surrounding colleges. For example, Luka Black and other farmers from Village Head Madulira in Senior Chief Kadewere in Chiradzulu have adopted the system.

“As farmers we are organised into groups with the help of student teachers and DAPP agriculture field officers where we share information, peer support and facilitate resource pooling to bolster marketing and financing.

“Since DAPP offered us training for three years we are able to stand on our own through potholing system. We don’t depend on fertiliser but manure and water pumps,” says Black.

Initially, the potholing system does not require fertilisers and rain water, but rather, irrigation of crops using rope pumps installed by farmers clubs also being advocated for by other organisations.

Instead of using government’s extension officers, DAPP uses graduate students and farm instructors to spread the farming technique to communities on how to handle the system.

“We dig holes 15 by 30 centimeters and 15 centimeters deep. We dig holes and encourage matching to conserve moisture, which takes a week to dry. It also saves time in that the hole can be used for three times,” states Tione Banda one of the DAPP trained farm instructors.

In DAPP colleges, the programme has proved to be cost effective with big increases in the value of the crops farmers harvest year-on-year compared to the investment in the programme.

“These pumps are locally made and installed close to gardens. With this potholing system, I plant maize and any other crop during the winter and rain-fed seasons. I transfer this knowledge each time there is a school holiday,” says Msukwa.

Cost Effectiveness of Potholing Farming System

Msukwa and colleagues have their own maize, beans and vegetable farms where potholing farming system is practised. Harvests sustain the college and are an income generating activity for students.

Unlike other government training colleges which buy food stuff, DAPP colleges rarely buy beans, maize and vegetables for their upkeep based on field visits to DAPP colleges.

“We dig holes and put compost manure we make ourselves in the holes before planting crops. We irrigate those holes with rope-pump water to let the crops grow. Since manure is already there, we don’t worry about fertiliser,” she says.

Research by DAPP shows that since the introduction of the model average production increased by 24 percent. DAPP country director Lisbeth Thomsen says production increased from basically non-existent to 55 kilogrammes per person in the families of those participating in the farmers club. Those participating in the clubs are also asked to form cooperatives so they are self-reliant.

“With the potholing system production has increased from 120 per cent to 250 per cent in the recent past. People have more food as well,”

The production corresponds with the needed consumption for families according to standards set by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) for a diet that is sufficient with regards to calories and nutritional quality.

Lisbeth Thomsen, Malawi DAPP Director

Lisbeth Thomsen, Malawi DAPP Director

Thomsen says: “The initial 12 000 farmers have increased the area cultivated from 14 000 hectare to 21 000 hectares. Not only that, 6 000 families have improved their access to clean water and build new toilets.”

Future of Potholing System
The system has already attracted the blessings of the Malawi Government solely because it uses low cost farming model with tangible results even without the use of fertiliser.

DAPP as project implementers have since signed a memorandum of understanding with the Malawi Government to scale up the programme across the country depending on funding from donors.

Ephraim Nyondo, a social commentator said during his visit to DAPP colleges in Thyolo and Chiradzulu that the project be replicated in other areas.

“Could DAPP open more colleges to replicate this to other areas? With soaring prices of fertiliser, who knows compost manure could be the solution due to its cost effectiveness,” says Nyondo.

Currently, with the potholing system, 69 per cent of farmers produce more than eight different crops, 89 per cent of farmers are food secure and that 75 per cent of farmers engage in business.

Benefits of the Potholing System

Benefits of the Potholing System

While the authorities in Malawi are poised to adopt the system in the nearly, the “AU-NEPAD-Ingo Alliance for Scaling-Up Climate-Smart Agriculture in Africa”, or “Africa Climate-Smart Agriculture Alliance”, is designed to support the rapid scaling-up of Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA) across Africa, through the collaborative efforts and practical, on-the-ground experience of Alliance members in agricultural research and implementation.

The Alliance aims to support the uptake of CSA practices and approaches by at least six million farming households by 2021, contributing to the African Union’s broader goal of supporting 25 million farm households by 2025.

With Malawi’s population hovering at 14 million and 80 per cent living in rural areas, agricultural experts feel the adoption of the system would help upset the dependency on fertiliser and rainfall in view of climate change effects on agricultural production.

April 23, 2014

Malawi Far From Linking Water and Energy Operations

George Mhango
April 23, 2014

Although Shire River is a major source of water and energy for Malawi, frequent droughts induced by a changing climate forced by increased demand has a negative effect on the water availability and livelihoods.

A concept paper for the Shire River Basin says major hydroelectric projects, which involve the construction of dams on the river, restrict the flow rate and affects the lives of a million downstream herders, sugar and just like fishers.

Shire River Bridge, Mangochi Malawi

Shire River Bridge, Mangochi Malawi

The paper argues that the main problem is that plans to harness water production, energy generation, irrigation projects and other uses were being developed separately both at the national and regional levels.

“What this means to some extent is that the authorities were not talking to each other about the river and its ecosystems so that as one they harmonise their operations to the advantage of public and private sectors, the paper reads.

During a key agenda item at the week-long Water Forum in Marseilles, France in 2012, Malawi and other countries also suggested overcoming the problem of how to share water resources through what scientists call “the nexus approach,”

Bai Mass Tall, the executive secretary of AMCOW (African Minister's Council on Water) speaking during the closing function of the 6th World Water Forum in Marseille

Bai Mass Tall, the executive secretary of AMCOW (African Minister’s Council on Water) speaking during the closing function of the 6th World Water Forum in Marseille

The nexus approach seeks to find solutions based on the interconnections between various sectors or disciplines and is regarded along with “resilience” as a term that could revive sustainable water and energy development as per the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) on Environmental Sustainability.

The water-energy nexus here in Africa has worked in Nigeria around the Niger River Delta, where experts harmonised operations after surveys showed that the two were critical for understanding water and energy cycles for efficient and sustainable use of these resources.

One Lilongwe-based water user, Christopher Kamuvwe wonders why despite the inherent connection between the two sectors, energy and water planners routinely make decisions that impact one another without understanding policy complexities of the other sector.

“This miscommunication often hides joint opportunities for conservation to the detriment of budgets, efficiency, the environment and public health, and inhibits both sectors from fully accounting for the financial, environmental or social effects they have on each other and the country’s economic development,” complains Kamuvwe.

But if it means drawing lessons to harmonise water and energy, Bondo Villagers, Traditional Authority (T/A) Mabuka Mulanje have become a shining example of the concept with using Lichenya River whose source is Mulanje Mountain flowing 24/7.

MuREA Projects officer Harry Lumbe was quoted in the media last December as saying, Bondo communities are role models in that they have travelled to Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Zambia to share the idea as to how they have linked water and energy operations on their own.

The project pegged at K60 million with funding from the European Union (EU) has its own power generating house. “Almost 4 000 households, health facilities and business enterprises are connected despite financial setbacks. Community assets such as Kabichi Primary, Malowa CDSS and Bondo Health Centre had power during the first phase,” he said, adding that water for home use is also not a problem.

While most tea plantations such as Lujeri have their own power and water plants in Mulanje, the Bondo micro-hydro power project is the brainchild of Mulanje Renewable Energy Agency through Mulanje Mountain Conservation Trust (MMCT).

In such an area, thousands of people were not connected to the national power grid by Escom or the Malawi Rural Electrification Programme (Marep), according to the Ministry of Energy.

Bondo is second after Kavuzi in Nkhata Bay started producing power for use by their communities in the late 1990s. Kavuzi shares boundaries between Mzuzu and Nkhata Bay.

“Let Escom and water boards be underone ministry if this idea is going to work because they interlink. This will also help have quality water and energy services in every locality where there are river. For example, we can have production points for water and power on Ruo, South Rukuru, Bua, among other rivers,” observes Kamuvwe.

Problems that communities face vindicate that only eight percent of the country’s population are connected to the national power grid, a source of power that has become increasingly unreliable due to power blackouts.

Although, government through water and energy sectors backs such initiatives of communities in Bondo and the much touted Shire River Basin, problems of water and power in the country cannot be overemphasized.

There is increased need for investing in sanitation and water supply in LDCs to end water scarcity

There is increased need for investing in sanitation and water supply in LDCs to end water scarcity

For example, prevailing water and power generation hiccups were some of the challenges that forced the Consumers Association of Malawi (Malawi) and other civil and human rights bodies to demonstrate in the streets of Blantyre on July 20. The protests left 20 people dead as they demanded improvement in the leadership style of former president the late Bingu wa Mutharika.

Cama also initiated its own follow up protest in January last year, in which they called on the leadership of President Joyce Banda to intervene. But Banda’s government claims to have improved the fuel, governance and human rights, energy and water challenges.

However, water and energy stakeholders are expected to have tough sessions this year to borrow a leaf from Bondo villagers during the national conference on water ahead of the World Water Day at the College of Medicine in Blantyre.

Water Services Association of Malawi (Wasama), executive director Benedicto Chakhame says this year the UN with its member States and other relevant stakeholders – is collectively bringing its attention to the water-energy nexus.

He says the idea aims to address inequities, especially for the ‘bottom billion’, who live in slums and impoverished rural areas and survive without access to safe drinking water, adequate sanitation, sufficient food and energy services.

Chakhame states: “It also aims to facilitate the development of policies and crosscutting frameworks that bridge ministries and sectors, leading the way to energy security and sustainable water use in a green economy.”

In line with the spirit of harmonising operations between water and energy, this is why as Malawi commemorated the World Water Day clear focus was on Water and Energy, to explore emerging challenges on increased energy demands on water sources sustainability and quality and highlight some of ways to curb the situation.

Chakhame says energy demands in form of bio fuels such as firewood threatens the availability of water resources and water quality due to for instance, continued cutting down of trees [for energy production] along the country’s major river banks, catchment areas and water sources.

“Water and energy are interlinked and interdependent. Energy generation and transmission requires utilisation of water resources, particularly for hydroelectric, nuclear, and thermal energy sources, hence the theme,” says Chakhame.

With different studies showing that water sources are slowly dilapidating such that most rivers will be no more by the year 2035, it remains to be seen how Malawi is expected to deal with climate changes, population and energy demands that causes pollution.

This is because in the State of the-Nation Address in 2013, President Banda did not single out how government intends to harmonise the two, water and energy in line with this year’s World Water Day theme. From her speech, water and energy projects are to be carried out separately.

But Chakhame argues that in order to manage government, water and energy, stakeholders are exploring what ways planners and decision makers need to do that can maximise the supply of one while minimising the over use of the other.

March 19, 2013

AfDB Approves US $73 Million for Irrigation and Road Projects in Malawi

WaterSan Perspective
March 19, 2013

The African Development Bank (AfDB) Group has approved grants and loans amounting to US $73 million to finance irrigation and road rehabilitation projects in Malawi.

The grants, amounting to US $39.98 million from the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP) and the African Development Fund (ADF), will be used to finance the Smallholder Irrigation and Value Addition Project (SIVAP).

African Development Bank Logo

African Development Bank Logo

A total of US $39.6 million will come from the GAFSP Multi-Donor Trust Fund, while the ADF will provide a grant of US $0.38 million.

The project aims is to contribute to food security, increased income levels and poverty reduction and the specific objectives are to increase agricultural production and productivity through intensification of irrigation, crop diversification, value addition and capacity building. SIVAP will benefit 11,400 farm families of which more than 50 per cent are headed by women.

A total of about 450,000 people will indirectly benefit from project activities through enhanced crop production, diversification and developing high value-chains.

The project will ensure ownership by the beneficiaries through participation in supervision, monitoring, evaluation, afforestation activities, matching grant arrangement for equipment, and training. The emphasis on expanding irrigation capacity will support Government efforts in achieving the objective of enabling farmers to plant at two crops per year.

The world marks International Water Day on Friday March 22, 2013

The world marks International Water Day on Friday March 22, 2013

The AfDB also provided a concessional loan of US $33.2 million to finance the rehabilitation of the road between Mzuzu and Nkhata Bay. The Mzuzu-Nkhata Bay road is one of the major trunk roads prioritized in the government’s Road Sector Programme, as it is part of the road network that links the northern region of the country to the central and southern regions.

The road, once rehabilitated, will support economic growth sectors in the northern region and is expected to benefit an estimated 342,211 people living in the two districts, by improving access to markets, schools, and health centres and other social-economic centres.

In addition to the above, the road is located on the Mtwara Development Corridor and therefore serves international freight traffic from Zambia and Tanzania. It is an important road link, not only for domestic connectivity, but also for regional trade and integration.

The AfDB is committed to supporting the Malawi Government in its efforts to achieve inclusive economic growth and reducing poverty.

The AfDB is confident that these resources will support Government’s efforts towards the achievement of goals and targets of the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy (MGDS II), consistent with the Bank’s Country Strategy covering 2013-2017.

September 8, 2012

Malawi: Roving a Bumpy Road to Meet the MDG on Water

GEORGE MHANGO
Blantyre, Malawi
September 8, 2012

Neno District in the Southern Region of Malawi will one day lose out from development and business investment if not connected to piped water. Communities had hoped that by declaring it to be a district 10 years ago, this year, water problems would be history. On the contrary, as the area enjoys population growth, only borehole water is available on a minimal scale.

Visits to the area proved that there are three taps situated on the outskirts of the district. This hampers not only communities but institutions to deploy staff to be based there. Close to 3 000 people at the town depend on four boreholes. The whole district according to statistics obtained from the water department office has 478 boreholes.

“Most of these boreholes get damaged in the process of being overused. Maintenance is also a problem because village communities can afford to raise money just for that. It is sad that due to water related problem, some people in T/A Dambe suffered from Typhoid,” says Wyson Kuseli, who works as district water officer in Neno.

Water problems in developing countries are acute and complex

Although, Neno District Hospital and the Clinton-Hunter Development Initiative (CHDI) have a mini-system of pumping water, it only caters for the hospital and their respective staff because of its capacity. The system is also not enough to provide the much need water, deemed to be life among human kind.

“Most of the communities are left out with no option but queue for borehole water together with some members of staff based here,” says Group Village Headman (GVH) Chekucheku, backed by other chiefs that the whole district needs piped water. Under GVH Chekucheku there are four Village Headmen such as Donda, Nkhukuzalira, Helani and Nedi, whose subjects spend sleepless nights on how to convince government to bring portable water there.

With a population of 107 317, Neno has four Traditional Authorities such as Dambe, Chekucheku, Mlauli and Symon. Out of the total population, 58 159 are people under the age of 18, a development that symbolises growth of the town and need for planning. Women too are not amused with the situation. The Southern Region Water Board (SRWB) has since zeroed in to deal with the problem not only in Neno, but various areas in the region.

“Once funded by the World Bank in form of a grant under the National Water Development phase two, work is expected to begin and it will not take four months,” says chief executive officer for SRWB Martin Chizalema.

Water problems faced in Neno are just a tip of the iceberg since most people depend on unprotected water sources countrywide. Challenges on the ground contradict a 2011 Malawi Sector Performance report by the Ministry of Agriculture and Water Development. UNICEF also says water supply in rural areas is at 77 out of the 67 percent while for urban areas it is at 92 out of the 95 percent required by the UN MDG on Water and Sanitation by 2015. Initially, 85 percent of people live in rural areas. To this effect, Unicef is also advocating for provision of safe drinking water and sanitation measures.

A kid stands close to a water tank. Rainwater tanks are vital in water harvest and storage

The 2011 UN report also says Malawi is on course to meeting the MDG on water. But such percentages do not regard the long distances people walk, low water pressure and the damaged boreholes that are staying idle. Water related organisations say, 30 percent of all the boreholes are damaged and were not sunk properly.

Although, this means Malawi is doing well, most major cities and towns still face water problem. In Blantyre alone statistics show production capacity being pegged at 86,000 m3 per day against a population of close to 700 000, something that leads to water shortages in the townships such as Chilobwe, Zingwangwa, Bangwe and Nidrande.

In terms of what needs to be done, Minister of Water and Irrigation Development Ritchie Muheya says government is to provide safe drinking water in both urban and rural areas by initiating a ground water pumping project. “For example, in Dowa and Ntcheu, the system is underway. We are working with donors and local NGOs,” he says.

“However, there is more to be done in Lilongwe and Blantyre. World Bank also helps in the provision of safe drinking water. At the moment, the Northern Region Water Board, Lilongwe Water Board and Blantyre Water Board through the National Water Development Project are expected to improve their efficiencies,” says Muheya.

This is why Blantyre Water Board (BWB) management has secured funding to improve water situation. The European Investment Bank and European Union are funding the project as a loan and grant.

Poor water quality continues to pose a major threat to human health

Apart from Muheya, Minister of Local Government Grace Maseko says plans are on to bring water to beneficiaries of the rural growth centers in the country, former president Bingu wa Mutharika singled out when he was in power.

Water Services Association of Malawi (Wasama), which acts as middle link between government and water service providers has since rolled out its operations to assist in bringing safe drinking water countrywide.

“Previously, it was difficult to monitor operations of water service providers. The plan is in line with the water and sanitation sector that is prioritized in the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy (MGDS),” says Wasama executive secretary Benedicto Chakhame.

A total of US$ 50 000 was allocated to integrated rural development in the 2012/2013 budget for programmes to do with rural growth centers and market structures, water and sanitation inclusive. Initially, these are clear signs that water in rural and urban areas, which are a must if Malawi is to meet the UN championed MDGs will be provided.

FAST FACTS:

• UN says Lilongwe is course to achieving the MDG on water and sanitation by 2015
• Currently, water supply in rural areas is at 77 and for urban areas at 92 percent
• However, up to 40 percent of all rural water points simply do not work
• World Bank is funding most of the water projects in Malawi
• Jaica is implementing borehole projects in various districts including Neno.
• Neno, one of the rural growth centres has three taps and 478 boreholes.

April 13, 2012

Malawi: Farmers Blame Poor Harvests on Untimely Weather Forecasts

George Mhango, Blantyre, Malawi
April 13, 2012

This year, Stelia Likisi and his family from village headman Alfazema, Traditional Authority Mulolo in Malawi’s lower-shire district of Nsanje District will have no food, money to pay for school fees and afford a decent life.

Likisi complains that the crops they planted during the dry planting season as per their custom did not germinate at all due to delayed downpour and dry spells contrary to past rainfall patterns that brought about bumper yields.

Stelia Likisi (extreme left) pose for a photo with other women as two Lions Club members (C) look on

She states that the dry spell also affected her fellow villagers until January, this year, when there was heavy and stormy rains which caused havoc on houses, property and animal production.

“Most of us have learnt the bitter way of not taking heed of weather reports. Imagine, we have lost money which was invested in farming,” laments Likisi, a mother of six children.

A visit to Mbwazi EPA showed that although most communities replanted maize after the failed dry planting, floods swept away their crops on the night of January 25. Nsanje District Commissioner Rodney Simwaka said 6 000 flood victims had their various crops washed away.

It was also proved that villagers in Osiyana, Khambadza, Sambani, Makhapa and Lalonga villages will have nothing to eat because the dry spell has already affected their replanted crops.

This therefore means that Likisi and a thousand others are now victims of irreversible damages to crop and livestock production due to what a 2010 Malawi report to the United Nations Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) says harsh effects of climate change in the district.

An elder, TA Mulolo addressing his subjects on the dry spell and climate change

For Rex Chapota an agricultural expert who specializes in communication and also executive director of Farm Radio such experience where people plant crops without adhering to weather forecasts means lack of enough awareness on weather forecasts.
“Climate change affects the way the farming calendar and season have to be looked at and how dynamic farming has become hence the need to increase efforts of raising awareness. For example, gone are the days when they believed in dry planting using past experience,” he states.

Chapota then thinks some farmers are still used that come Mid October every year planting rains would come yet these days it even reaches January before planting rains come in other parts.

Nsanje North legislator in Malawi’s government dominated parliament Frank Viyazhi said recently farmers rely on field officers however, he said government should intensify awareness for them to understand climate change and weather.

“Forecasting is quite helpful and farmers should not take things for granted that they should plant based on the ancient calendar. This is what I also advise people in my area so we escape from annual devastating floods,” Viyazhi said.

Malawi’s acting director of Climate Change and Meteorological Services Gray Munthali says the department is not to blame saying when the weather forecast is issued, users like farmers are encouraged to get advice from their line ministries, using existing communication channels.

He explains that seasonal, forecasts cover the period October to March for planning purposes and the interpretation for farmers is through the Ministry responsible for Agriculture.

“For operational purposes, the department issues ten-day and daily forecasts which help farmers to make meaningful decisions,” Munthali notes.

But press officer in the Ministry of Agriculture, Sarah Tione says information on rainfall pattern from the Ministry aims to assist farmers to know when to expect the first rain, rainfall pattern and distribution across Malawi.

She said in the face of climate change this helps farmers to decide when to plant apart from their farming experience because weather conditions and reports have changed this time around.

Tione also blamed some farmers who she said prefer to use their experience rather than getting rainfall distribution data from the extension workers placed in their localities.

“It is not a big problem but as a Ministry, we just have to encourage our farmers to combine their farming experience and issues of climate change. We have now begun promoting Climate Smart Agriculture or conservation farming,” she said.

But Farm Radio Malawi officials think all stakeholders in the farming systems have enough knowledge and should share the knowledge appropriately and using various channels.

“That is why now, as an organization we are exploring ways of ensuring that farm radio programs can interpret the weather forecasts in line with issues of agriculture since the weather forecasts normally are general and not only for farmers,” Chapota says.

The climate change and meteorological acting director, Munthali says for farmers to utilise weather reports for good planting key stakeholders should have brainstorming sessions in view of the advances in technology so as to improve communication between authorities and farmers.

“The model of using extension workers to pass on information has been there for quite a long time. Perhaps it is high time it was reviewed. Once reviewed farmers would devise resourceful ways to cope with and adapt to adverse impacts of extreme weather events,” Munthali states.

The Department is also implementing a project, on pilot basis, to improve the dissemination of weather and climate information and products to the grassroot level and currently the selected districts are Karonga, Kasungu, Salima, Zomba, Mulanje, Chikhwawa and Nsanje.

Nsanje and Chikhwawa are part of the pilot phase in line with a September 2009 study by Bunda College of the University of Malawi which shows that communities are vulnerable to different climate risks, including flooding, shorter rains, dry spells, late rains, drought and strong winds.

“Floods and drought were mentioned by all vulnerable communities as being the most climate change risks affecting adaptation efforts,” noted Dr. David Mkwambisi, one of the researchers.

Agriculture experts, Farm Radio Malawi and the Ministry of Agriculture have stepped up efforts to provide civic education.

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