Home > CGIAR Research Programs > Ongoing Projects > Climate Change Adaptation in the Lake Chilwa Basin

Climate Change Adaptation in the Lake Chilwa Basin

Lake Chilwa Basin Climate Change Program (LCBCCP)
Project leader
Daniel Jamu
1 Apr 2010
30 Mar 2015

Small-scale fisheries, Malawi
Malawi has experienced a number of adverse climatic events in recent years. Lake Chilwa, a major lake in the country and an important resource has dried up nine times in the 20th Century due to low rainfall in the basin. and it is predicted that events of this nature will become more common with increased climate variability. Some studies suggest that temperatures in the Lake Chilwa Basin will increase by up to five degrees Celsius by 2075.
High population density, an increasingly degraded environment and anticipated but unpredictable climate change in the Lake Chilwa Basin are causing food insecurity and famine, and exerting increased pressure on natural resources such as forests and fisheries. Not only are these resources important sources of livelihood, but they also become critical safety nets for the poor in times of crises.
In the past, sector-specific strategies worked towards solving problems of food insecurity, overfishing, deforestation, soil erosion and siltation of rivers. However, linkages between these sector strategies have been weak and have failed to address the wider impacts of climate variability and change on food production, the environment and livelihood vulnerability. In addition, there is a lack of capacity at the local and district level within the sectors to plan for and manage the impact of climate change.

National Program of Action

The Malawi Government’s National Adaptation Program of Action for climate change, developed through a national consultative process, identifies the most urgent activities that are necessary to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change among communities in vulnerable areas of the country. This cross-sectoral plan focuses on agriculture, water, energy, fisheries, land-use change and forestry, wildlife, human health and gender, with the Lake Chilwa Basin identified as a priority region. The resources of this region are critical for millions of Malawians, not only those living within its boundaries. The problems found in the Lake Chilwa Basin (poor soil fertility, severe land pressure, population growth and density, and widespread poverty) are representative of the challenges faced right across Malawi.

Lake Chilwa Basin Climate Change Program

The Lake Chilwa Basin Climate Change Program (LCBCCP), implemented by WorldFish in partnership with Leadership for Environment and Development (LEAD), The Forestry Research Institute of Malawi and the University of Malawi and funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is developing a range of Basin-wide climate change adaptation solutions that will be implemented in support of the country’s national adaptation program so as to enhance the capacity of communities to adopt sustainable livelihood and natural resource management practices. 
Attention is focusing on the human-environment relationship in ten hotspots in the Lake Chilwa Basin, each of which has been identified by local community members. One of the key tools to be used will be the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s ecosystem-based adaptation model, which builds on traditional knowledge, and generates a range of social, economic and cultural benefits, whilst helping to conserve biodiversity.
The project will also conduct baseline studies on critical ecological systems, processes and components such as water resources, soil erosion and vegetation. Studies on other components and processes such as biological diversity and carbon sequestration will be carried out later in the project.


The project has adopted an integrated management approach. This includes the conduct of various stakeholder fora, and collaboration with other NGOs, and projects such as World Vision International (WVI), Wildlife and Environmental Society of Malawi (WESM), Malawi Environmental Endowment Trust (MEET), Mulanje Mountain Conservation Trust (MMCT) and Wellness for Agriculture and Livelihoods Advancement (WALA), all of whom are implementing similar activities in the Basin.
Photo Credits – John E. Randall