Malawi is rich in water resources with Lake Malawi and other surface water comprising 21 percent of the total surface area of the country (Ministry of Irrigation and Water Development, 2007). However, most of the population live distant of the lake where surface water is seasonal and of questionable quality.

The rural population depends strongly on the availability of surface water supplies which can be highly variable in availability, depending on the season. Many urban areas obtain water from dammed water sheds in highlands surrounding them. Surface water is a strong component of water supply in Malawi and its loss of availability during the dry seasons coupled with increasing demand stresses the system. This has resulted in an increase in tapping ground waters which are less susceptible to seasonal weather changes.

Population growth will continue to place pressure on water resources as well. The current estimated population is 16.3M people increasing at a rate of 400,000/year (The World Bank, 2012). Agricultural expansion to keep pace with population growth both as a source of food and as income will further strain water supplies.

The Malawian economy is dependent mostly on agricultural production of cotton, tobacco, tea, and sugar (Ministry of Irrigation and Water Development, 2007). Much of this production occurs in the Chikhwawa region, relying heavily on local surface water supplies. Increased consumption of these supplies, or increased use of fertilizers, can have a negative impact on the groundwater supply both in quantity and quality of water.

To increase water security in the country and to help the nation reach the 2015 U.N. Millennium Development Goals, Malawi has developed a vision of “water for all, always,” (Ministry of Irrigation and Water Development, 2007). This has increased the demand for sustainable water resources to all residents in the country and in rural areas this is primarily achieved through groundwater-tapping boreholes.

Extracted from (Polmanteer, 2013)

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© 2018 Climate Justice Fund: Water Futures Programme