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Adverse impacts of climate change and development challenges: integrating adaptation in policy and development in Malawi

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J. Chigwada
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Any impacts of climate change have wider economic ramifications in Malawi due to problems such as drought and flood having a direct impact on agricultural productivity, water resource availability and health. Ninety percent of the Malawi population depends on wood fuel for energy and 100% of electricity generated comes from hydro-power from Lake Malawi.A rapidly growing population is creating a greater demand on water resources for which possible adaptation measures include dam construction, introduction of rain harvesting techniques and risk area mapping. The author identifies that poverty plays a major role in pressure on resources and it is crucial that any framework for combating environmental degradation should tackle poverty as a priority.Malawi has already integrated several strategies to deal with adverse effects of climate change including the creation of the Department of Disaster, Relief and Rehabilitation to handle extreme weather and natural disasters. The country has a flood warning system, timely weather warnings and a Disaster Management Plan, but there are no specific adaptation measures in place.The author makes several recommendations for integrating mitigation and adaptation measures into development: the Malawi government should include climatic variability within the budget heat tolerant cultivator breeds, and water and energy conservation techniques should be should be developedcommunities should be educated on the dissemination of climate information the Meteorological Department should improve its weather forecasting techniques If Malawi is to successfully adapt to climate change then some additional measures must be adopted: link disaster relief to hazard reduction programmesencourage and enhance conservation incorporate adaptation into long term development educate the population about climate variability and change