MALAWI: Ordinary Malawians seize the initiative
Government needs to prioritise irrigation for farming
Johannesburg, 23 June 2009 (IRIN) - Ordinary Malawians are not waiting for government to step up its plan to adapt to climate change, says a new report, The Winds of Change: Climate change, poverty and the environment in Malawi
The report by the UK-based development agency, Oxfam, tells of the headman of a village outside Blantyre, Malawi's second city, who has placed a ban on cutting trees, and a farming couple who have established tree nurseries in their village, are among the many who know that to adapt is to survive.
Fred Kabambe, a small-scale farmer in Thyolo, a town in southern Malawi, has managed to secure early-maturing, high-yielding maize seeds from Churches Action on Relief and Development, which works to improve food security, and plants them in furrows to conserve moisture. A portion of the seed from his harvest will be deposited in a newly built grain bank in town.
He told the authors of the report he used to harvest one bag of maize; last year he got eight bags and earned enough income to put a tin roof on his house, and this year he aims to finish the building work. "Now more people are following these methods. I feel very great!"
|Government can ...prioritize certain polices such as rolling out rural electrification, which will reduce Malawians' dependence on charcoal and irrigation for agriculture
The report, largely based on anecdotal input, said rising temperatures and intense rain over the past 40 years had led to droughts, floods, shorter growing seasons, smaller crop yields, food shortages, hunger and the spread of disease in a country where 29 percent of people were already living in extreme poverty.
The Malawian government has failed to raise any donor money for its plan to adapt to climate change - costing more than US$22 million - from the Least
Developed Countries Fund (LDCF), set up under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change to finance projects identified by countries in their National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA).
According to experts, only a handful of NAPA projects have been approved for implementation since the inception of the LDCF in 2001, but Elvis Sukali, one of the report's two authors, told IRIN that a lack of funds should not become an "excuse for inaction".
"Government can start making some budgetary allocations and prioritize certain polices," he suggested, "such as rolling out rural electrification, which will reduce Malawians' dependence on charcoal and irrigation for agriculture."