SUMMARY: Malawi is one of the countries that have ratified the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Under this Convention, parties to the Convention must communicate to the Conference of the Parties (COP) their national inventories of anthropogenic emissions of all greenhouse gases by sources and sinks using comparative methodologies. With financial assistance from the United States Country Studies Program (U.S.CSP) to address climate change, Malawi intends to develop a baseline for greenhouse gas data suitable for scientific understanding of the relationship between gas emissions and climate change. Additionally, Malawi will assess the vulnerability of important sectors (water, agriculture, and wildlife) to climate change impacts and recommend adaptation and mitigation measures. This report describes the four study elements of the country studies, i.e., specific objectives and methodologies that will be employed. Since this study has just been initiated, no results are reported but a description of the use into which the expected results will be put is given.
According to Ominde and Juma (1991), global warming would induce changes in precipitation and wind patterns, changes in the frequency and intensity of storms, ecosystem stress and species loss, reduced availability of fresh water, and a rising global mean sea level. Although the actual impacts may not be easily predicted, changes in weather patterns may either lead to the prevalence of severe drought conditions or extreme flood events in Malawi. The existence of prolonged drought periods will seriously affect agricultural production on which Malawi heavily depends for the sustenance of her economy. Water for domestic consumption will also become scarce as experienced during the 1991 92 drought; the capacity to generate hydroelectric power will decline and lake transport services will also be seriously affected. On the other hand, very wet conditions will cause heavy floods with subsequent loss of life and property.
Malawi signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Rio de Janeiro in June 1992, and ratified the Convention in March 1994. Realizing further the importance of the environment, Malawi launched its National Environmental Action Plan (NEAP) in November 1994.
Under the UNFCCC, parties to the Convention must communicate to the Conference of the Parties (COP) their national inventories of anthropogenic emissions of all greenhouse gases by sources and sinks using comparative methodologies (Art.12.1(a)).
There has never been an inventory of GHGs in Malawi before. The potential impact of rising temperatures and changes in rainfall pattern is also unknown. Data are lacking on this subject therefore it was felt necessary to identify sources and sinks of GHGs and assess the vulnerability of various sectors to climate change impacts.
Malawi is largely an agricultural country, and it grows mostly tobacco, sugar, and maize, besides other crops. Livestock production is also an important industry that is growing. In addition there is noticeable industrial growth in major cities of Malawi. All these activities generate greenhouse gases.
Another source of GHGs is domestic woodfuel use. Malawi's energy source is mainly (95 percent) from woodfuel while only 3 percent is hydroelectric power generation. The implication is that several hectares of forests are cleared every year to meet the daily energy needs. This results in an accelerated removal of sinks of GHGs, leaving the gases to concentrate in the atmosphere. Bush fires that occur annually in forests, national parks, and wildlife reserves are yet another source of GHGs.
In Malawi, GHGs also come from the biological process of decomposition, and emissions from motor vehicles. It has been documented that if wood is not stored properly, i.e., left to rot, it generates GHGs (e.g., CO and CH4). Of late there has been an increase in traffic volume, particularly in the urban areas of Malawi although the quantities of traffic emissions are unknown.
Malawi, like any other nation, realizes that her development activities are part of the worldwide concern over the increases of GHGs. However, information about the actual sources and quantities of the emissions is lacking, hence the inclusion of this element in the study. The country study will therefore develop a national inventory based on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) methodology and create a data base that will enable both scientists and administrators to understand and appreciate the importance of the problem. The specific objectives of this inventory are to:
The necessity to study the impacts of climate change on both the quantity and quality of water resources cannot be overemphasized. Although Malawi may be considered generally rich in water resources, the distribution is not even. Therefore there is a pressing need to adopt sound and sustainable management practices of water resources to avert the threat posed by changes in climate. The specific objectives of this study element therefore are to assess the impacts of climate change on:
National Parks have universal values (McNeely, 1992). They maintain essential ecological processes that depend on natural ecosystems, and preserve species diversity and the genetic variation within them. National parks also maintain productive capacities of ecosystems; preserve historic and cultural features important to the traditional lifestyles and well-being of local peoples; safeguard habitats critical for the sustainable use of species; secure landscapes and wildlife that enrich human experience through their beauty; provide opportunities for community development, scientific research, education, training, recreation, and tourism; and serve as sources of national pride and human inspiration. Additionally, national parks are close to pristine environments, so they are considered as indicators of environmental quality. Therefore any impact of climate change may not only be easily noticeable in national parks but it would also seriously reduce the values of these areas. It is therefore important to study these areas to institute adaptation measures from a point of knowledge. So the specific objectives of this study element are to:
Agriculture is the backbone of Malawi's economy providing for over 50 percent of the GNP. Malawi has not yet sustained food self-sufficiency; to the contrary, an underdeveloped subsistence livestock sector, and declining crop yield levels threaten the livelihood of the present population of eight million people and the availability of natural resources to future generations.
Crop and livestock production depend on rainfall as the sole source of water supply. Less than 5 percent of arable land is under irrigation, although Malawi is endowed with over 21 percent of its area as rivers, lakes, and marshes. In the last three decades, the country has experienced variability and unpredictability of seasonal rainfall. There have been three significant droughts (in 1978 79, 1981 82, and the worst one in the 1991 92 season), frequent and increasingly long dry spells, and erratic onset and cessation of rainfall. Tremendous variability means recurrent drought with increasing frequency as one moves to lower rainfall zones. Even with fair or excellent rainfall in those zones, no one would know when to expect which kind of season. Thus, the risk of failure of the more desired food crops and pasturage is high and unavoidable owing to the inability to predict.
It is envisaged that the anticipated global climate change will alter temperature and rainfall levels in some areas. These changes, with increased fluctuations, are expected to cause many shifts in food production. Most crops are sensitive to changes in climate conditions, including alterations in temperature, moisture, and carbon dioxide levels. Furthermore, major climate changes influence populations of beneficial organisms and pests and alter their effective roles in agricultural ecosystems.
Finally, in the last two decades, the shift towards production of cash crops, particularly tobacco, at the expense of subsistence food crops has pushed crop and animal production to marginal (rainfall) lands. Further, the rampant growing of the major staple cereal (maize), even in areas marginal for its production has exacerbated the food production problem and environmental and soil erosion problems. With the growing human population in Malawi, and general resource limitations in land, water, and energy, sound ecological technologies for resource use in agriculture are being sought and this study is a rational initiative. The specific objectives of this study element therefore are to:
Geographically, Lake Malawi which is Africa's third largest and the world's eleventh, dominates the country. It measures about 550 km long by 15 80 km wide, and occupies a deep Rift Valley trough that cuts through the country along a north-south line. The lake surface elevation is about 474 m, and the deepest point is 230 m below sea level.
Lake Malawi and the Shire River are part of the Great African Rift Valley. On either side of the rift abrupt escarpments rise to the highlands that flank it. To the west the highlands include the Nyika (highest elevation 2,607 m), Viphya (2,058 m), and Dedza (2,198 m) plateaus. To the east they include the Shire highlands (1,774 m), Zomba plateau (2,087 m), and the Mangochi and Namizimu hills (1,796 m). The eastern highlands continue northwards into Mozambique, and Tanzania. Behind the rift edge highlands the land descends gently to the Central African Plateau at elevations around 1,000 m. Examples of this are the Lilongwe and Kasungu plains. The country's lowest elevation of about 37 m is on the Rift Valley floor at the extreme south, while Mulanje Mountain, an ancient volcanic plug standing on the plateau to the south east, is at 3,050 m the highest point in Central Africa.
Malawi's has 19 biotic communities mappable at a scale of 1:1,000,000 (Shaxson, 1977). The vegetation is typical savanna woodland with Brachystegia as the dominant species. Malawi's national parks, wildlife reserves, and forest reserves cover approximately 21 percent of the land surface area. The national parks and wildlife reserves represent thirteen of the nineteen biotic communities. The aim of setting aside these areas is to preserve selected examples of Malawi's biotic communities and conserve watersheds/catchment areas (Clarke, 1983). The different vegetation communities are a habitat to diverse wildlife; about 181 species of mammals, over 100 reptiles, 56 amphibians, and 620 species of birds (Ansell, 1989; Sweeney, 1966; Stewart, 1967; Benson and Benson, 1977).
About 90 percent of Malawi's population is rural and dependent on agriculture. Agriculture employs almost 85 percent of the labor force and accounts for about 43 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and nearly 90 percent of the export earnings. The income per capita GNP is estimated at US $230.00 (Myers, 1994).
Greenhouse Gases Inventory
The IPCC methodology will be applied to the following modules: Energy, Industrial processes, Solvent Use, Agriculture, Land-Use, and Wastes. These modules will cover a wide range of activities.
To begin with, the energy module will consider all the GHGs that are emitted from fuel combustion and fugitive fuel. Specifically, the following calculations will be made: GHG emissions from stationery sources (boilers and kilns), emissions from mobile sources, CO2 from traditional biomass burning, and CH4 from coal mining and handling. As to industrial processes, the main emphasis will be on CO2 emanating form factories, e.g., cement manufacturing. The third module will concentrate on solvents that produce NO2, CO2, and volatile organic compounds, such as non-methane organic compounds from paint, thinners, and related material from printing activities and dry cleaning. On the other hand, emissions from agriculture will be inventoried to measure quantities of CH4 in enteric fermentation and manure, flooded rice fields, N2O from soils, and CH4, CO, N2O from burning of agricultural residues. Lastly, the waste management module will give much consideration to the emissions of methane from landfills and waste water from municipals and industries.
Study Site Selection
Two national parks, i.e., Nyika and Lengwe, will be used as study sites. Nyika mostly lies on a plateau at a high elevation with low temperatures and high rainfall. In contrast, Lengwe National Park lies in the Lower Shire Valley (Southern Malawi) at an altitude of between 30 and 100 m above sea level approximately. The mean annual temperature is the highest and the rainfall is the lowest and most unreliable (600- 700 mm) in Malawi (Shire Valley Agricultural Development Program, 1975).
In choosing these two sites, the study with cover two extreme climate conditions of Malawi. The availability of reasonable quantities of data from the two areas has also influenced site selection.
Baseline Climate Data
To help identify how changes in baseline conditions affect sensitivity of wildlife to climate change, precipitation and temperature data for the period 1961-90 for each site will be obtained from the Meteorological Department. The data will be entered into the habitat suitability index model.
Climate Change Scenarios
GCM outputs for 1 x CO2 conditions for the Malawi region will be obtained from the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). A comparison of the regional 1 x CO2 output with the observed climate data will be made and the three GCMs that best reflect current climate will be selected. Using the selected GCMs, the study will create climate scenarios for the sites under 2 x CO2 conditions. The resulting precipitation and temperature outputs will be used in the wildlife habitat suitability index analysis and the water and forestry elements of the Malawi Country Study. Desanker (in press) also presents useful precipitation and temperature data for selected sites in Malawi under CO2 doubling.
Habitat Suitability Analysis
The Habitat Suitability Index model developed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will be used for each site to calculate habitat suitability indices for two ecologically and economically important species. Nyala (Tragelaphus angasi G) and Roan (Hippotragus equinus) antelopes will be chosen in the study. Nyala is the keystone species in Lengwe National Park which is the northernmost limit in Africa. On the other hand, the roan antelope which is listed on Appendix II of CITES (Convention in International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna) is one of the most abundant ungulate in Nyika National Park.
First, the study will use the MIOMBO model developed by Desanker & Prentice (1994) to evaluate how the vegetation shifts in Malawi will occur under the generated climate scenarios. Using the HSI model for each climate, we will input the following habitat variables: water availability, prescribed burning regime, intensity of human influence, browse/grass availability, preference values of browse/graze species, importance values of preferred browse species, and vegetation cover. When using these variables, the study will assume that the other parameters are constant, e.g., soil nutrient, soil moisture, floristic richness, and intraspecific competition.
A sensitivity analysis will be conducted by exploring the effects of precipitation variability. The model will be run under different scenarios where just one variable at a time is varied. For example, in one set of runs, we would hold all variables but watering availability constant, and in one run try watering availability in a poor rain year. In another run the model will try a moderately poor rain year, then an average rain year, a moderately good rain year, and a final run in a very good rain year. In a second set of runs, we would assume the effects of variation in rainfall on a different variable, and hold water availability and the rest of the variables constant.
Animal Population Vulnerability
Animal population data will be collected for each species. Existing data on animal numbers and distribution will be consolidated and updated using aerial and ground census techniques. To exclude human influence (poaching of the key species for example) as a possible cause of any impact that the study might detect, the study will analyze the law enforcement effort data in these areas and assess its influence on animal species abundance and distribution.
Millsap et al. (1990) used biological vulnerability and state of knowledge to provide a logical ranking of all vertebrate taxa in Florida. In this study, however, we will only employ the biological variables which measure characteristics of population status or life history because the action variables become useful when ranking different species to set conservation priorities for each of them in an area. Those variables are as follows: population size, trend, range size, distribution trend, population concentration, reproductive potential for recovery, and ecological specialization.
A Population Viability Analysis (PVA) model developed by the Captive Breeding Specialist Group of the World Conservation Union will be used to evaluate the health of the nyala and roan populations under both the baseline and climate change scenarios. This analysis will help eliminate incorrect interpretation of genetic effects as climate change impacts.
Relationship Between Habitat and Animal
The study will attempt to make correlations of the habitat and animal population data with meteorological data on ecologically and economically important large mammal species. The study will relate the animal population status data with the HSI analysis results generated from the precipitation and temperature data under the baseline and carbon dioxide doubling scenarios. This will help assess potential impacts of climate change on these two species. Any potential impact identified by the study will subsequently lead to selection of appropriate adaptation measures which are the ultimate outputs of the study.
An analysis of time series of monthly and seasonal rainfall and
(baseline climate data) will be
made by running a simulation model (maize) to evaluate potential
adaptive strategies using
CERES-Maize Model and
General Circulation Models (GCM) outputs. Observed climate and crop
data, will be modified
to determine climate
change scenarios (determine and compare ten-year and long-term
variability of historical
and GCM output elements).
Strategies for adapting to different climate change scenarios with or
without the direct
effects of CO2
and other parameters will be recommended.
To accomplish the Country Study effectively, different institutions (governmental, the University of Malawi, and Non-Governmental Organizations) with the necessary capabilities have pooled their human resources together for efficient coordination of the set procedures. The Department of Meteorology together with the Ministry of Research and Environmental Affairs (MOREA) are the management authorities on climate change issues in Malawi. Therefore, they comprise Malawi's delegation to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the INC (Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee) under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
To strengthen the existing infrastructure and ensure applicability of the existing climate information to the planning and management of socioeconomic and environmental programs, a National Climate Committee was formed under the former Department of Research and Environmental Affairs (DREA), now called MOREA. The same committee will develop and strengthen capabilities to forecast significant climate variations. MOREA is the coordinator of the project. They will be responsible for submission of quarterly technical and financial reports on behalf of the various study teams. The National Climate Committee mentioned earlier before will be responsible for monitoring the progress of all the activities of the project.
Although Malawi has local expertise to implement the different study elements, she realizes that there are some shortcomings such as lack of training and experience in this new field. Therefore, Malawi needs assistance to inventory its GHGs since it has no previous experience and expertise. Technical assistance in the form of training workshops will be required for the coordinator, lead and alternate contact persons. These will provide a hands-on experience on coordination, inventory, and vulnerability and adaptation assessments. The workshops will also be a source of resource material on models, reports, and other analytical tools necessary to accomplish the country study.
Technical assistance will also be required in the form of consultants and advisors who will pay field visits to those study elements that will find on-site assistance necessary. These visits will also be essential in providing guidance and review of progress made in the study. The technical assistance is crucial for sustainability of the project's activities. With the skills acquired during the training workshops and field visits by US experts, the Malawian counterparts can keep assessing future impact of climate change not only in the sectors included in this country study, but also in any other sector when the need arises.
To ensure timely implementation, Malawi has developed a framework within which to accomplish the study. Since Malawi has no experience in the type of study, a maximum period of two years is envisaged adequate.
Follow-up activities are essential to any study to ensure that there
is continuity of
activities. Therefore, Malawi
envisages that the results of this country study will be incorporated
in the various
environmental management plans. The
infrastructure and skills acquired will be useful in planning and
management of future
environmental projects. Some
results of this study will be published in scientific publications in
international journals, and local newspapers
in both English and local languages to sensitize policymakers, the
public, etc. Other
activities will include holding a
national workshop to discuss results of the country study.
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