Recent Floods, a Wakeup Call for Malawi


        flod foto

    Recently, about fifteen districts in Malawi were hit by heavy rains that killed so many people, demolished and destroyed houses and displaced thousands of people from their houses.

    The heavy rainfall that affected most parts of the country, should act as a wakeup call for Malawi to start preparing on issues of climate change and climate change variability looking at the magnitude of the disaster that the heavy rainfall caused this year.

    It is irrefutable fact that Malawi is one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change and climate variability.

    Climate change models continue to paint a bleak picture for Malawi. According to UNDP (2007), global warming is projected to increase temperatures by two degrees to three degrees by 2050 with consequent decline in rainfall and reduced water availability.

    The combination of higher temperatures and less rain will translate into a marked reduction in soil moisture, affecting the ninety percent of Malawi’s smallholder farmers who depend on rain fed agricultural production.

    Currently urban residents in Malawi are grappling with the challenge of water shortages such that in some areas people two spend about two to three weeks without a drop of water coming from their taps.

    Production potential for maize, the main staple food crop which in a normal year is the source of three quarters of calorie consumption is projected to fall by over ten percent.

    The most affected people would be women and child headed households whose economic situation is already disadvantaged.

    The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) findings showed that the increase in average global temperature and accompanying floods and droughts are caused by human activities associated with industrial revolution.

    About 50 percent of the increase in Green House Gases (GHGs) is due to the using of energy of fossil fuels such as coal, oil and natural gas 20 percent is from the chemical industries and the rest if from agriculture like use of pesticides and cutting down of trees.

    Carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere is at highest level that it was before and industrial revolution continues to rise.

    Rich industrialised countries, generally members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) have emitted most of the GHGs currently in the atmosphere and they are historically responsible for what some climate change mitigation and adaption call “Ecological debt”

    Over the past century, developed countries have been responsible for disproportionate amount of global green house emissions.

    Paradoxically, it is the developing World where the poorest and most vulnerable face the greatest difficulties in adapting the impacts of climate change.

    If not urgently addressed , climate change is likely to place millions or more people at risk of increased hunger, disease and disasters and it is likely also to bring and trap more people into poverty.

    The impacts of climate change in Malawi are being manifested in the recent floods that have affected more people as well as the changing in rainfall patterns, drought and prolonged dry spells.

    The effects are being accelerated by the unsustainable exploitation of natural resources, notably deforestation, clear evidence are mountains that are bare because the trees that covers them were cut.

    Climate change issues are becoming more visible and it is a national concern hence the reason for urgent action.

    The initial policy response to climate change by the Government of Malawi has been the development of the National Adaptation Programme (NAPA) In March 2006 whose primal aim was to increase the adaptive capacity of vulnerable communities to adverse the effects of climate change, however it suffered implementation due financial.

    In 2009 the government of Malawi added Managing Climate Change and Natural Resources and Environment in its overarching development vision, the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy (MDGs) as one of nine priorities within priorities in its medium term strategy for reducing poverty and achieving growth led economic development.

    It is not clear whether it was implemented by recently some people are suggesting that government should allocate funds for disaster and risk management it the national budget as one way one addressing problems that comes due climate change related issues.