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World Bank Support To Protect Malawi Watersheds, Improve Rural Livelihoods

WASHINGTON DC, United States

New World Bank funding totalling $157 Million USD will be directed to the Malawi Watershed Services Improvement Project (MWASIP) that will restore degraded land and forest cover in order to improve availability and quality of water resources.

The project is the first in a series of programmes to support the implementation of the National Forest Landscape Restoration Strategy and will focus on the adoption of sustainable landscape management practices. The overall aim is to restore critical watershed services and thereby improve water availability and quality. In doing so, the program will address the country’s increased vulnerability to droughts and floods, reduced energy security and reduced agricultural productivity.

“Nearly 8 million hectares, which is 80 percent of the total land area of Malawi, is degraded and requires restoration. Soil erosion and nutrient depletion are the most severe forms of land degradation that affect more than 60 percent of the entire land area. We have committed in our strategy to restore 4.5 million hectares of degraded land by 2030, and this project is the first opportunity [to] invest at scale in reversing landscape degradation and protecting our most important watersheds,” Dr. Henrie Njoloma, Secretary for Irrigation and Water Development, said 6 July.

The programme will fund up to $40 Million USD in livelihood support grants through community endeavours to encourage better land stewardship. Further investment of $45 Million USD will be directed to water infrastructure, including small multi-purpose dams, rainwater harvesting structures and small-scale irrigation projects. It is estimated that over 2,500 construction jobs will be created by the programme.

“Land degradation in Malawi is a major challenge, arising from environmental, climatic and other pressures. Previous projects, supported by the World Bank and other partners, have demonstrated that it is possible to restore degraded landscapes through an integrated package of interventions involving land and water management,” according to Greg Toulmin, World Bank Country Manager for Malawi. “So, we see a long-term partnership between the World Bank and the Government of Malawi as crucial to these efforts at improving livelihoods and building rural resilience, especially in the context of Malawi’s recovery from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic".