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Climate change and rural livelihoods in Malawi: review study report of Norwegian support to FAO and SCC in Malawi, with a note on some regional implications

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S. W. Bie
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This review seeks to assess the sustainable livelihoods projects currently supported by Norway in Malawi within the context of climate change and its predicted impact on agriculture development and food security.The report found that since the adaptation to climate change was not a design feature of any of the projects or undertakings, the relevance of the activities to adaptation to climate change was rather incidental. It argues that many activities aimed at better land management, more robust agricultural production systems, and community awareness and participation may also be important ingredients of projects specifically designed with climate change in mind. However, the report pointed out that some production-oriented interventions, e.g. higher production rates from long duration maize or specialised maize production at the expense of subsidiary crops (sorghum, millet, legumes, and vegetables) may render the farming systems significantly more vulnerable to adverse weather assumed to become increasing associated with climate change. Furthermore the report states that the projects reviewed seem to have considerable more understanding of the potential strengths of diversification than major government agricultural support programmes, yet often fall outside current subsidy schemes covering fertilizer and seed distribution. Lastly the report raises some concern as to whether the multitude of initiatives forwarded by institutions within and beyond the UN system to the Malawian government, and often driven by donor perspectives, may lead to fragmentation of efforts. At a country level, there is need to collaborate and establish an effective grouping involving development partners, farmer association, research institutions and government departments. This is where the Norwegian embassy could play a funding role for improved rural livelihoods.