Climate Change: Resilience & Food Security


malawi1Malawi is one of the African countries worst affected by climate change. Heavy rains, floods and droughts are common and dangerous, especially to the 80% of the population who live in rural areas.

Christian Aid is working through partner organisations to support communities living in areas facing a high risk of drought and flooding, together we are developing programmes which help communities to build their resilience to future disasters.

Every year in Malawi, millions of people struggle to grow enough to eat. Current farming methods can barely support the number of people living off the land, and regular droughts and floods make it even harder for communities to cope.

Christian Aid is helping families improve their farming methods to increase production and engage in profitable agricultural activities by ensuring they can grow and market their crops effectively.


Partner organisation


Christian Aid is supporting partner organisation Emmanuel International Malawi (EI) as they strengthen the resilience and financial security of communities by improving food security, disaster preparedness and access to markets.

EI has been a part of Christian Aids ECRP (Enhancing Community Resilience Programme) since 2011, and has expertise in livelihoods programmes.

Project dates

1/10/2014 – 30/09/2019

Project background

This project has been developed to help communities adapt to their ever changing ecosystems surrounding Lake Malawi, Chilwa and Chiuta. These lakes have proven to be highly sensitive to climate change, with water levels continuing to drop following a decrease in the rainfall season, and an increase in the rate of evaporation.

Any increase in air temperature directly results in a rise the temperature of the lakes. This coupled with changing rainfall patterns is directly impacting fish reproduction, growth and migration patterns in the lakes. It also indirectly impacts fish biodiversity through changes in habitats, stocks and species distribution.

malawi2Elevated water temperatures in shallow areas have been forcing fish to migrate to deeper cooler water, which has resulted in fishing becoming more difficult for the artisanal fishermen who use small planked canoes and nets to catch fish. They are unable to access deeper water fish stocks as they do not have the equipment required, and these waters are also targeted by migrant fishermen, which has caused a level of conflict between the two groups.

Fluctuating water levels have been associated with varying fish catches/production and a changing of the more dominant species over the years. These changes have had a significant impact upon the livelihoods of the fishing communities surrounding the lakes.

Recently flash floods and high precipitation have affected the surrounding communities and have resulted in heavy land degradation through erosion, which has also had an impact upon agriculture, livelihoods and essential irrigation systems.

Climate change is increasing the vulnerability of farm fed smallholder agriculturalists, and droughts are predicted to become more common – leading to increased food insecurity.

The potential drying of these lakes is a natural food security concern in terms of protein source and rice production, as these lakes are surrounded by extensive wetlands- and are essential to rice production.

Rural households have few safety nets and are highly susceptible to climate related shocks, such as droughts and flooding. Their adaptive capacities are often low and all of the factors described above, including small and declining farm sizes, lack of livelihood options, poor governance, a lack of capital, and food insecurity all contribute to the level of vulnerability a household faces.

The Project

Christian Aid and EI have identified that the communities living around Lakes Chilwa and Chiuta need to diversity their livelihoods as the impacts of climate change have been most dramatic in this area. The recessions of water levels and increasing number of floods have not gone unnoticed and are having a significant impact on surrounding communities.

In response to these climatic changes, Christian Aid and EI are going to raise awareness of, and provide some training in how to get involved with complementary livelihoods such as bee keeping, bamboo growing and basket weaving, alongside providing training on sustainable agriculture, farming and afforestation (natural regeneration).

This project has been working with communities to generate income in a variety of ways since 2014.

This next phase of the project will focus on fishermen who have been facing significant environmental changes to their marine ecosystems and agriculturalists.

Christian Aid and EI will be ensuring that ecosystems on the land are not negatively impacting upon the biodiversity of marine life in Lake Malawi.


Christian Aid and EI will support entire communities to identify their vulnerabilities, begin adapting to climatic changes, and improve their resilience.


The following activities are planned to take place in the next 12 months:

  • Provide training and raise awareness of the impact of various agricultural practices, to ensure farmers and agriculturalists do not harm their surrounding ecosystems.
  • Address sediment issues through improving forestry and agricultural practices.
  • Reduce deforestation by promoting cleaner and more efficient alternative agricultural activities.
  • Encourage communities not to cut the forestry down, but to replace these woodlands with citrus trees which will produce fruit and have a positive impact upon the soil and riverbanks as they grow and help to stabilise the land. The ‘Plant a tree’ campaign will help with this.
  • Work with local government departments to promote and enforce good shoreline development, management and environmental planning processes.
  • Conduct environmental base line studies of the various areas which should be urgently targeted by these interventions.

Expected results

  • Communities will have developed and improved their climate change adaptation practices.
  • Communities will protect their ecosystem from the impacts of climate change.
  • Livelihoods will be improved as a result of reviewing value chains and acting appropriately to improve markets access for producers.
  • Households will have diversified their livelihoods activities.
  • Household will have improved their level of financial security.
  • Soil erosion will be less of an environmental threat as more trees have been planted following the ‘Plant a tree’ campaign.
  • The private sector will be engaged in the implementation of the activities mentioned above in hope that they will reduce their level of threat to freshwater biodiversity and help to build the level of resilience of communities facing climatic changes.


Direct beneficiaries: 250 people. 25 groups (approximately 10 – 15 individuals per group)

Indirect beneficiaries: 1,000 people (each direct beneficiary is expected to pass information on to the benefit another four people – either from their family or their local community).