Malawi experiences multivariate shocks and long-term stresses. Improving sustainable private sector-led agricultural diversification and economic growth, diversifying livelihoods, increasing safety of women and youth, and fostering linkages to Malawi’s national social protection systems are critical to implementation of Malawi’s National Resilience Strategy and increasing Malawians’ resilience to droughts, floods, pests, price shocks and other shocks.
Resilience activities in Malawi aim to make the country’s largely poor and rural population less vulnerable to droughts, floods, pests, price volatility and political shocks. Because most people are engaged in agriculture, the Government of Malawi and international donors are focusing on sustainable agricultural growth, livelihoods, nutrition and strengthening Malawi’s national social protection systems.
Malawi’s population remains largely poor and rural, with low agricultural productivity and limited opportunities for off-farm and nonfarm employment. Most farmers continue to rely on rainfed maize production for food and income, and there is heavy reliance on humanitarian assistance. Many factors contribute to household vulnerability, such as:
- Climate change and variability, including recurring droughts, floods and recent cyclones.
- Poor land management practices, deforestation and fragile natural resources.
- Pests, such as fall armyworm.
- Price shocks, especially high costs of agricultural inputs.
- High food prices.
- Over-reliance on tobacco for export revenue and on maize for subsistence, and insufficient scaling of agricultural diversification, value addition and other forms of employment.
- Insufficient coverage of adapted and shock-responsive social safety nets.
- Political and price shocks, and weak policy implementation.
While some progress has been made in advancing priorities laid out in Malawi’s National Resilience Strategy, including agriculture, integrated watershed management and adaptive and shock-responsive social protection, the Government of Malawi continues to face fiscal challenges and relies heavily on humanitarian assistance rather than shift investments toward more efficient and effective shock-responsive systems.
The Government of Malawi’s 2018 National Resilience Strategy shifted focus away from merely coping with shocks to building resilience through strategies such as:
- Sustainable agricultural growth.
- Risk reduction.
- Flood control and early warning and response systems.
- Human capacity.
- Livelihoods and social protection.
- Catchment protection and management.
Donor activities focus on building food and income resilience in Malawi by:
- Increasing access to and availability of diverse and nutritious foods.
- Improving health and nutrition.
- Increasing access to improved agricultural technologies and practices that increase production, access to markets and resilience of smallholder systems.
- Strengthening adaptive and shock-responsive social protection systems, including graduation from ultra and moderate poverty to sustainable livelihoods.
Opportunities for Strengthening Resilience
The evidence base in Malawi shows that enhancing private sector-led growth, investing in adapted and shock-responsive social protection systems and creating synergies and layering interventions are more effective in building household resilience than participating in just one intervention.
Combinations of interventions should be tailored depending on the household’s situation and the livelihoods contexts, and need to be tailored to reach the ultra poor to strengthen asset creation. For example, studies have shown that household participation in either a crop group or livestock group — coupled with assistance with input and training — and participation in women’s empowerment or village savings and loan groups, can accelerate resilience. Evidence also shows that the private sector plays a crucial role in engaging smallholder farmers and investing in sustainable and profitable systems improvements that also include resilient practices, such as drought-resistant seeds and land management.
Technical Analysis to Inform the Trigger Design for Adaptive Safety Nets to Respond to Climate Shocks in Malawi
23 Jun 2023 - World Bank Group , Richard Choularton , Agrotosh Mookerjee , Meredith Mallory , Krishna Krishnamurthy , Rahel Diro , Evie Calcutt , Alejandra Campero
Discover how the Government of Malawi designed a scalable trigger mechanism to provide social protection during climate shocks.
Using Disaster Risk Financing to Build Adaptive Social Protection for Climate Shocks in Malawi
16 Jun 2023 - World Bank Group
In the face of drought, the Government of Malawi used adaptive social protection to support the resilience of over 100,000 households.
Malawi Resilience Factsheet
17 Jun 2022 - USAID
In Malawi, risk and exposure to shocks and stresses are driven by a confluence of over-dependence on rainfed maize and tobacco, unmodernized agriculture sector, dependence on biomass for energy resulting in...
Climate risk profile: Malawi
12 Feb 2021 - ATLAS - Adaptation Thought Leadership and Assessments
This profile provides an overview of climate risk issues in Malawi, including how climate change will potentially impact agriculture, water resources, fisheries, ecosystems and human health. The brief includes an...