Resource icon

Catchment protection and management in Malawi: A review

Resource type
Issues brief

This discussion paper synthesises evidence on the role catchment protection and management (watershed management) can play in addressing Malawi’s coupled challenges of environmental restoration, poverty reduction and climate change adaptation.

Watershed management places an obvious emphasis on the watershed as a planning unit, which makes it an attractive unit for addressing the inter-linked concerns of upstream and downstream communities. This paper reviews existing evidence to determine the framing of objectives of watershed management, the technical and institutional approaches, performance to date and factors influencing performance, and the opportunities for scaling up successful approaches.

Malawi bare ground
Malawi has experienced many years of deforestation (courtesy of BRACC hub)

The paper finds growing interest in watershed management but fragmented approaches. Similarly assessing the performance of the watershed management interventions in Malawi is tricky. Theory and practice tell us that watershed management can be a very effective approach for responding to the coupled challenges of land restoration, soil and water conservation, climate change adaptation and mitigation, biodiversity support and poverty reduction. The paper concludes with some recommendations to ensure that the potential is met.