Global Climate Change Alliance in Malawi

At a glance

2015-06-01 to 2021-06-10
Active programmes
Min. of Environment and Climate Change Management
Total budget
8,00 M€
GCCA priority area(s)

The economy of Malawi and livelihood is largely dependent on its natural resources, either from the land (agriculture), biodiversity (agriculture, forestry, tourism) or water (agriculture, fisheries, energy, health). Over half of the population lives below the poverty line and more than 90% of the population practice subsistence agriculture with around 98% of the population in rural areas depending on wood fuel for their energy supply. This dependence on natural resources, coupled with rapid population growth, makes Malawi particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change and variability.


The Government of Malawi developed its National Adaptation Programmes of Action (NAPA) in 2006. The NAPA recognises that the affected majority have the least resilience to cope with the impacts of climate change and its adverse effects. Currently, the Climate Change Policy is awaiting ratification by Parliament. A Climate Change Investment Plan was launched in April 2014 which looks at priority sectors requiring financing, while a National Climate Change Communication Strategy is in place to sensitise various stakeholders and the general public on their roles in this arena. A draft report on a Sector-Wide Approach for climate change was prepared at the end of 2011 but since then there has been no further movement. Despite the number of planning and policy documents Malawi has prepared or that are under preparation it is widely acknowledged that the emphasis must now move from formulation to implementation.

GCCA's action programme
Geographical scope
Country groups
Initial GCCA/GCCA+ contribution
8,000,000.00 €

Overall objective

To alleviate poverty through enhancing the resilience of Malawian institutions and communities at national and local levels to climate change risks and impacts.

Specific objective

To contribute to climate change mainstreaming at regional and district levels.

To increase the resilience of vulnerable communities to climate variability and change.


In Component One, planned actions are aimed at strengthening capacities at district levels with regard to designing and implementing climate resilient development plans.

Component Two includes the provision of support to vulnerable communities' efforts to be better adapted to the impacts of climate variability and change.


In Component One capacities at district levels are strengthened with regard to designing and implementing climate resilient development plans.

This involves an assessment of the specific needs of a climate sensitive sector, irrigation and the design and implementation of a capacity development programme to enable Government of Malawi staff working at regional and district levels to 'climate proof' their planning and specific implementation activities. As a foundation the programme builds on the 'Climate Change Manual for Training District Councils of the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development.

Component Two consists in supporting vulnerable communities' efforts to be better adapted to the impacts of climate variability and change.

Planned activities include promoting sustainable natural resource management, energy supply, improved agricultural practices and climate resilient livelihoods. Depending on specific circumstances these include, but not be limited to, community forest management and reforestation; low carbon technologies including stoves and carbon financing schemes; conservation agriculture; small scale irrigation; community grain storage facilities; small livestock asset transfer; micro-watershed management; basic community infrastructure; community early warning systems; water supply and sanitation; village savings and loan schemes.

In addition the programme provides support the process of communicating lessons drawn from the community level to relevant decision makers via learning / coordination meetings with the Government of Malawi, Development Partners, NGOs and CSOs, universities / research institutions. Targeted investigations contribute to knowledge management including the development of illustrative case studies to be shared with the larger GCCA community.

Achievements to date

Component 1: Planning for Climate Change (PCC) Service contract signed with Human Dynamics on 15 May 2015 with implementation started on 15 June.

Under the PCC component, it has been undertaken and achieved the development of training documentation whose ultimate stage has been achieved by the finalization of the mainstreaming climate change community source book. To facilitate an easy access for the community members, this resource book has been translated from English to Chichewa and to Tumbuka.

Following completion of training documentation development, the training process has been continued to ensure effective mainstreaming of climate change. For that, two levels of training under the PCC component can be categorized. There is the training of trainers who are equipped with the skills around the mainstreaming of climate change and who are then involved in delivering the training to the community level in their respective communities. Through establishment of a help desk by the PCC team, continuous assistance is provided to the trainees on any topics covered by the organized training.

Mentoring has also been to 43 community trainers. With the skills and knowledge gained, it is expected that the mentored trainers will raise funds in their districts for mainstreaming climate change especially to local communities.

Contract came to an end on 31 December 2017 through an addendum. An exit strategy was developed and for a possible follow up of climate change mainstreaming and community training the Department of Environmental Affairs should be the custodian of the PCC documentation.

Component 2: Strengthening Community Resilience to Climate Change (SCR to CC) grant contract signed with FAO on 4 June 2015 and implementation started on 5 June 2015.

Up to now, a pool of 125 extension workers and 270 Community Based Facilitators (CBFs) using the Farmer Field School (FFS) approach has been fully trained and are performing the actual empowerment of farmers to ensure increased capacity of end users for adoption of the most appropriate practices/solutions addressing the climate change related issues.

The project has a strong community outreach through which 195,000 active resource users organized in 325 groups in selected micro catchments have been reached. The farmer field school approach is used as the instrument to perform capacity building and effective empowerment of the involved communities and households. Key achievements include among others the training of Community Based Facilitators who are then rolling out the community outreach activities around field-testing of various training materials on different adaptive technologies and practices. Through the learning by doing process organised within the 325 farmer field school established groups, community members have increased their knowledge in relation with the following areas: (1) skills in soil and water conservation, (2) conservation agriculture, (3) agroforestry, (4) natural tree regeneration, (5) gully reclamation, (6) basin planting (7) various irrigation techniques and (8) diversification of production systems. They have also implemented various validation and comparative studies on (i) crop varietal trials, (ii) timing of planting, (iii) crop combination, (iv) seed rates, (v) pests and disease control, (vi) moisture retention practices and (vii) integrated homestead gardening practices. For example, 96 groups under this program have acquired practical knowledge on the sustainable control of the fall army worm pest by using various methods of integrated pest management. They have now innovated in adoption and promotion of new high value crops. In that frame, 27 fruit trees orchards and 29 banana fields have been established. Following the training around nutrition related topics, it has been recorded a progressive increase of household dietary diversity which has doubled from 26,7% at baseline to 53,7% by November 2019.

In addition to the purely farmer field school group members, the program is also benefiting directly and indirectly the community level through some particular activities addressing issues of natural resource management like the natural regeneration of forest, catchment management, gully reclamation and tree planting operations. As an example, it can be mentioned the case where production and group marketing for both groundnuts and pigeon pea has happened in various groups from Blantyre and Phalombe districts. Through this arrangement, farmers managed to increase their income by getting a better selling price of MK850 per kilogramme, as opposed to MK500 per kilogramme for ordinary groundnuts. The availability of funds through the CSL system helps improving access to agricultural inputs as well as to access and use of improved construction materials. By the end of March 2020, total group savings had reached MK59,389,660 while the VSLs group membership totalled 7,820 (5,201 female and 2,619 male).

Finally, although the good progress in terms of project achievements, the recent outbreak of COVID-19 has led to interruption of some particular activities. This presents a risk for negative impact on the full attainment of the project objectives and its sustainability. To address this, a no cost extension allowing the project to finalize all the planned activities has been approved until December 2020.

The additional implementation period aimed at completing the activities affected by COVID 19 which include the setting up of productive investments at community level comprising (1) completion of seepage wells excavation, (2) installation of drip irrigation systems, (3) training of farmers in operation, care and maintenance for the infrastructure. In addition, the additional period allowed the completion of the training of farmers in post-harvest handling of produce, monitoring and backstopping of group enterprise establishment and management, conducting of Farmer Field School members' graduation and conducting of stakeholders review and exit meetings.