Author: Madalitso Wills Kateta

Cyclone Freddy points to urgent need for climate-smart solutions in Malawi

Source(s): The New Humanitarian
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Farmers in southern Malawi have faced a series of climate disasters in recent years – from storms to drought – that has deepened the already troubling levels of rural poverty. In January last year, more than 900,000 people were affected by Cyclone Ana, followed two months later by Cyclone Gombe, which caused yet more damage. 

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Densely populated and agriculture-dependent, Malawi is extremely vulnerable to the effects of climate change – even under scenarios predicting only modest future temperature increases. As a result, experts are calling on the authorities to urgently rethink their agricultural policies and find “climate-smart” alternatives to better insulate smallholder farmers from climate-related shocks over the coming seasons.

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Last year, an expanded Affordable Inputs Programme (AIP) swallowed 85% of the agriculture budget, crowding out expenditure on irrigation and other much-needed farmer support services. The government was forced to scale back the number of farmers it aimed to reach – from the planned 3.7 million to 2.5 million – partly as a result of rising global fertiliser prices.

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Last year, President Lazarus Chakwera promised a reformed AIP to better target the farmers who need the support and prevent rural dealerships running out of stock. “We need to have a better solution for such citizens [affected by food insecurity] rather than condemning them to a life of dependency on a programme that is not suited for them,” he said at the time. 

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Hazards Cyclone
Country and region Malawi
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