Press release

WorldFish releases comprehensive briefing note revealing shocking information on drying of chilwa lake in Malawi

WorldFish, an international, nonprofit research organization dedicated to reducing poverty and hunger by improving fisheries and aquaculture, has released a detailed report discussing evidences of drying of Lake Chilwa in Malawi.

The briefing note has been released as a result of the Lake Chilwa Basin Climate Change Adaptation Program implemented by WorldFish and its program partners including Forestry Research Institute of Malawi, Leadership for Environment and Development-Southern and Eastern Africa/University of Malawi. The program is funded by the Royal Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The comprehensive briefing note prepared by Daniel Jamu, Mphatso Chapotera and Patrick Likongwe expresses concerns about complete drying out of Lake Chilwa within the next 2 years. This lake has been supporting the livelihoods of more than 1 million people living around the lake for years.

Lake Chilwa, the second largest lake in Malawi, may soon fall prey to fluctuating rainfall patterns in the region. This alarming fact has been brought up in a recently published briefing note released by WorldFish, a nonprofit research organization that works to improve fisheries and aquaculture in order to reduce hunger and poverty. The briefing note has been released by WorldFish and its program partners as an output of their Lake Chilwa Basin Climate Change Adaptation Program.

Lake Chilwa has faced similar rainfall pattern that led to drying of the lake in 1995–96. The lake plays a key role in the livelihoods of more than 1 million people living around it. In this briefing note, the researchers have analyzed the past hydrological trends and different factors that result in fluctuation in the lake's water level. It also examined the current level of the lake and suggests measures to preserve Lake Chilwa

Lake Chilwa is fed primarily by seven perennial rivers and its water level tends to fluctuate a great deal with alternate dry and wet seasons. The briefing note reveals that the lake has dried up eight times in the last 100 years. Insufficient rainfall for two consecutive seasons was the reason for the last such instance in 1995–96. River discharge and lake level monitoring was started again in 2010, thanks to the Lake Chilwa Climate Change Adaptation Program.

This program consists of monitoring of lake level by volunteers in conjunction with the District Water Office. The research forecasts a similar fate for Lake Chilwa within the next 2 years because the present rainfall pattern is somewhat similar to that when the lake last dried up.

Talking about the steps taken to minimize the impact of drying of the lake, a senior scientist from WorldFish, Dr. Daniel Jamu says, " The water and weather monitoring system that was put in place by the program have been instrumental in providing the data that have enabled us to alert communities, policy makers and other scientists on the increased potential/probabilities for the drying up of Lake Chilwa in the next 2 years".

He also added, "This has given all stakeholders an opportunity to develop contingency plans that can minimize negative impacts of a dry lake on wetland biodiversity and livelihoods of riparian communities". The program has also suggested continuation of water level monitoring and development of alternative livelihood for the riparian community as the recommended plan of action for the future.

About WorldFish

WorldFish, a member of the CGIAR Consortium, is an international, nonprofit research organization committed to reducing poverty and hunger through fisheries and aquaculture.


CGIAR is a global agriculture research partnership for a food secure future. Its science is carried out by the 15 research centers who are members of the CGIAR Consortium in collaboration with hundreds of partner organizations.

For more information on the seminar or any aspect of this topic, please contact:

Dr. Daniel Jamu, WorldFish Malawi Office at (+265-1) 527 151, (+265-1) 527 337, (+265-1) 527 195 or email at

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