Implementation Strategy

Strengthening local and district institutions to better manage natural resources and build resilience to climate change:

The Lake Chilwa Basin Climate Change Adaptation Programme is working closely with District Assemblies, the District Executive Committee (DEC), the District Executive Sub-Committee on the Environment (DESC), the Traditional Authorities (TAs), the Area Development Committees, together with the smaller Beach Village Committees (BVCs), the Village Natural Resource Management Committees (VNRMCs), Village Development Committees (VDCs) and the Water User Committees to strengthen their ability to carry out natural resource management planning and governance and increase their understanding of and adaptation to climate change. District Assemblies and traditional leaders are consulted and involved in all aspects of this project and its implementation. In striving to secure the social and ecological resilience of the basin, the Programme has improved the knowledge, attitude and practices of district and local institutions to manage natural resources sustainably and build resilience to climate change through trainings and other awareness-raising activities.

Facilitating and help build cross-basin and cross-sector natural resource management and planning for climate change throughout the Basin:

The programme is ensuring that there is also greater coordination and planning of climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies across the districts and sectors in the Basin. This project is focusing on establishing such linkages and coordinated work. It is operating to link specific institutions but also to increase connections across communities to work on natural resource management and engage in the design and implementation of adaptive strategies to climate change.

Improving household and enterprise adaptive capacity and resilience through diversifying livelihoods and reducing vulnerability:

The driving force behind deforestation and degradation of natural resources in the Lake Chilwa Basin is poverty. Therefore, this project, is emphasizing on strategic and tactical adaptations, that aim at increasing the capacity of households to adapt to climate change by reducing the vulnerability and poverty of local communities residing in the basin. In strategic adaptations, efforts are focusing on improving the participation of the poor in decision-making and management of their resources. Tactical adaptations concentrate on improving and diversifying livelihoods and building capacity for innovation and entrepreneurship. The project has conducted participatory value chain analyses of key commodities (fish, rice, honey, horticultural products, etc.) to identify potential constraints, potential markets, and opportunities The project has trained and provided business support to small-scale producer groups of Pigeon peas, Chillies and Fish to strengthen their capacity and and linked them to lucrative markets. As curing fish uses considerable firewood (fishing driving deforestation), the Project is promoting solar fish dryers and improved fish smoking kilns at three (3) landing sites of Kachulu, Swang’oma and Malunguni around the Lake. The project is also working with selected farmers from the hotspots areas in Conservation Agriculture activities to address both CO2 emissions but also soil erosion and fertility problems.

Help mitigating the effects of climate change through improved forest management and governance:

Forest resources play a central role in mitigating the impacts of climate change. In the Lake Chilwa Basin, forest resources support people’s livelihoods, providing a direct source of income and food for many of the Basin’s inhabitants. Furthermore, forests contribute to water availability, storage and distribution which are crucial for domestic water supply, irrigation, and ultimately the support of the Lake Chilwa fishery. Finally, forest resources in the Basin mitigate climate change by sequestering carbon. Deforestation reduces the ability of an ecosystem to sequester CO2 and increases the vulnerability of soils to erosion from heavy rains thus reducing water storage due to runoff. Soil erosion further reduces the quality of water for consumption and maintenance of ecosystem services such as breeding areas for fish.

Programme activities focus on improved forest management and afforestation interventions to address the current environmental problems caused by uncontrolled bush fires, illegal tree felling, charcoal production, forest encroachment and general poor forest management practices in the Zomba Mountain Forest and other forests within the catchment. The Forestry Department is leading in the initiatives to improve forest management and implement agroforestry and reafforestation programmes. Stakeholders across the Basin have been engaged in discussions about improved forest management in order to raise awareness of the importance of the forest for water availability and use (urban, rural and irrigation) and to address problems such as deforestation, charcoal burning, illegal cutting, and forest fires. Communities both near the forest and those downstream near the Lake Chilwa are all involved in this consultation and awareness-raising process. The programme has established strong links with the EU-funded ‘Improved Forest Management for Sustainable Livelihoods’ project .Through stakeholder consultation process, best forest management practices have been identified and implemented. These include: co-management of forests; introduction of fuel conserving technologies; promotion of alternative sources of energy; agroforestry; and afforestation. Through this stakeholder consultation, the programme has facilitated establishment of 20 Village Forest Areas and planting of over 1 million tree seedlings in the basin, establishment of Village Natural Resource Management Committees (VNRMCs) who have been trained in forest management practices. Livelihood surveys have been undertaken to understand the economic contribution of charcoal and firewood selling, commercial logging, and agricultural expansion into forested areas.

Ecosystem monitoring:

The Programme is monitoring trends of critical natural resources and processes in the basin, which are vegetation and biodiversity, carbon stock levels, water resources, fisheries, soil erosion and rainfall. As a strategy for creating community awareness of the effects of different land use and management practices on soil loss, sedimentation collection pits have been constructed in selected hotspots located in mini-catchments within the basin hotspots. Communities have been trained to monitor soil loss from mini-catchments and maintain sediment pits. Mini-catchments have been selected to cover the range of management practices and land use degradation observed in the selected hotspots. Volunteers from within each village maintains the sedimentation collection pit as a community monitoring and awareness program. Field days are conducted where results obtained from the sediment pits are discussed and used to revise or update action plans for reducing soil loss and improving the river ecosystem health. Quantification of weight of soil lost under different management regimes and agroecosystems in the hotspots is continuously done and total soil loss per hectare is reported annually.

The most important rivers in Lake Chilwa basin are Sombani, Namadzi, Likangala, Thondwe, Domasi and Phalombe Rivers which discharge water to Lake Chilwa and the wetlands. These rivers are very important because they sustain livelihoods in the whole basin through small scale irrigation, fishing, and aquaculture and provide portable water to both rural and urban populations. Discharge of these rivers is monitored by the programme to assess impact of climate change adaptations using flow meters. Data collected from non-hotspots will be used as control to compare adoption of climate change interventions versus non-adoption. To ensure sustainability, the project is working with Water Department to revamp the river flow/flood monitoring system in the basin. Lake Chilwa water levels are being monitored at Kachulu, Mposa, Namanja and Swang’oma gauging sites River discharge

The Programme is also monitoring fisheries resources of Lake Chilwa through the Department of Fisheries. The programme has developed the simplified fish catch data monitoring and recording system using log books which is now functional. Currently 40 BVC members, 150 fishermen and gear owners including fishing crew are participation in data collection. The information collected is used to monitor the impacts of adaptation strategies on fish production and marketing and assists in the adaptation of existing area-based management plans. Changes in diversity of lake species which use rivers to breed helps to determine the effectiveness of programs in hotspots to promote recovery and enhance productivity of fisheries.

Meteorogical data is also collected by the Programme. A baseline study conducted by the Programme on the status of climate data management system in the basin revealed deteriorating infrastructure and declining institutional support towards climate data management as key challenges that would affect the quality of reporting on climate change and variability in the Basin. In addressing these challenges, the Programme has, in collaboration with the Department of Climate Change and Meteorological Services, installed one new and rehabilitated 7 old weather monitoring stations in the Basin (Plate 34). Through the rehabilitation process, Domasi College rainfall station has been upgraded to a subsidiary station, which means it is now capable of recording both rainfall and daily temperature changes. The infrastructure and information collected will be used for meteorological, agricultural and educational purposes relevant for adaptation to climate change. In addition, the Programme has trained meteorological observers from these stations in weather station management, which includes meteorological data collection, management and reporting.