Chapter 5: Actions to address Environmental Issues

Actions to address Environmental Issues

5.1 Methodology for identification of actions to address environmental issues

Recommendations on actions to address environmental issues were identified by both the 18 task forces in their reports and the local communities in the district workshops as presented in Volume 2 of the NEAP.

The methodology for identification of key environmental issues was explained in section 4.1 where recommended actions were also identified and ascribed to these key environmental issues. The actions were then organized in the following hierarchical structure, which is shown in detail in Appendix 4:

  • Key environmental issues (defined in section 4.1.)
  • Focal points of Intervention, representing a resource use, or a set of resource use practices, which may have to be partly or completely stopped, replaced with a sustainable alternative, or, modified by corrective environmental action.
  • Strategy, which explains the nature of actions to be taken.
  • Actions, which are concrete and specific measures to be undertaken by identified institutions or groups of people in order to implement the strategy.
This structure also allowed for cross references as certain actions may pertain to several strategies.

In the district workshops, the participants presented their recommendations in three groups:

  1. actions the local population may undertake on their own;
  2. actions which the local population may undertake, but which require government or non governmental assistance;
  3. actions which Government should undertake.
The actions recommended in the different sections of this chapter follow this categorization.

Some of the proposed actions are already being implemented by various players. However, some weaknesses have been noted and corrective actions suggested.

In the presentation of the various actions a prioritization of these is deliberately avoided because they are policy guidelines which are all important to address the complex nature of environmental issues in Malawi. -

5.2 Soil Erosion

5.2 1 Cultivation on marginal land (steep slopes and river banks) Protection of steep slopes and river banks

Government through the:

  1. Department of Lands and Valuation (DLV) Department of Forestry (DOF) and the Land Resources and Conservation Branch (LRCB) of the Ministry of Agriculture, in collaboration with the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) will review and strengthen legislation to protect these environmentally fragile areas. 
  2. Ministry of Agriculture in conjunction with Local Authorities will promote use of appropriate technology for cultivation of steep slopes.
  3. Local Authorities (LAB) will:

  4. (i) stop cultivation on steep slopes and along river banks; and
    (ii) rehabilitate all degraded areas through 'greenbelt' concept. Resettlement of people from marginal lands

Government through DLV will repossess and allocate all idle estate land to the needy for agricultural purposes; and the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) will initiate a resettlement project moving people from marginal land to the repossessed land and any other land that may be identified as suitable for resettlement. Rehabilitation and utilization of vacated marginal lands

  1. Local communities, through the Village Development Committees (VDCs), will rehabilitate all degraded marginal areas left by the resettled people, and plant them with appropriate tree species, own and manage them as community forests.
  2. The Department of Forestry (DOF) will provide technical assistance in identifying appropriate tree species and assist in raising tree seedlings. Promotion of agro-forestry

Government through Departments of Agricultural Research (Agroforestry Commodity Research Team), Forestry (Forestry Research Institute of Malawi) and LRCB in collaboration with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and international organisations such as International Centre for Research on Agroforestry (ICRAF), will:

  1. develop acceptable agroforestry packages;
  2.  train agricultural extension staff on agroforestry technologies for effective delivery of the packages;
  3. strengthen farmer training to increase adoption rate of agroforestry packages;
  4. establish tree seedling nurseries and ensure that the Rural Financing Bank will provide credit where necessary for agroforestry programmes. Construction of permanent physical conformation

The Government through the LRCB in collaboration with Bunda College of Agriculture and appropriate NGOs will continue to:

  1. develop labour-saving technologies for constructing storm water drains, terraces and bunds;
  2. design and peg storm water drain, terraces and bunds in the fields (LRCB and NGOs);
  3. design and peg drainage line in waterlogged areas (LRCB and Department of Irrigation - DOI);
  4. train farmers in pegging marker ridges using "'A' Frame" (LRCB, NGOs); and
  5. provide planting materials for stabilising conservation structures (LRCB).
Farmers will collectively:
(a) construct storm water drains, bunds and drainage lines; and
(b) stabilise the constructed structures with vetiver or napier grass.
Individual farmers will be assisted to construct and stabilise marker ridges, align planting ridges to the marker ridges and in low rainfall areas, box ridges will also be constructed in order to conserve water.

5.2.2. Mono-culture, Noncontour row cropping (maize, tobacco and cotton) Crop rotation

The Government through:

The Department of Agricultural Extension and Training (DAET) will continue to:

  1. promote crop rotation by farmers who are growing tobacco.
  2. promote alternative high value cash crops other than tobacco;
  3. the Ministry of Agriculture and DLV will continue to enforce the mandatory four-year rotation on tobacco estates;
  4. the Ministry of Labour (MOLMD) will make tenancy system more secure by ensuring provision of formal tenant contracts. Contour planting of all crops


In addition, individual farmers or farmer groups, with LRCB assistance will establish vetiver and napier grass multiplication nurseries. Promote mixed and inter-cropping by smallholder farmers

The Government through Department of Agriculture Research (DAR) (Adaptive Research) will:

  1. conduct research on mixed cropped or inter-cropped system with special reference to type and optimum number of crops; and
  2. promote mixed cropping and inter-cropping including legumes (to improve soil fertility) on all land-holdings of less than one hectare to raise productivity, income and food security.
5.2.3 Overgrazing Appropriate levels of stocking

The Government through the Department of Animal Health and Industry (DAHI) will

  1. review and increase floor prices of cattle at government markets regularly;
  2. create awareness on environmental damages arising from overstocking and make recommendation of optimum number of livestock per livestock holder; and
  3. recommend Restocking in areas that are overstocked. Stall-feeding

To derive maximum benefit from improved prices (section, farmers will stall-feed excess bulls, unproductive heifers and work oxen and poor animals before sale. Improvement of communal pastures

Groups of livestock owners with technical and material assistance from DAHI will improve communal grazing land management while individual livestock owners will reduce dependence on crops and use part of their landholding to establish improved pastures and fodder trees. Expand communal grazing land

After rehabilitating degraded marginal areas (section chiefs, through VDCs, will:

(a) permit limited and controlled grazing; and

(b) identify additional land which may be converted into managed communal grazing land. Keep improved breeds

The Government through the DAHI will continue to:

(a) promote keeping of improved breeds for both beef and milk production;

(b) increase the availability of improved animals; and

(c) encourage the Rural Financing Bank and other lending institutions to give soft loans to livestock owners to acquire improved breeds or multiply them for supply to other farmers. Promotion of small ruminants

The Government through DAHI will:

(a) promote keeping of small ruminants e.g. goats, sheep and rabbits by smallholder farmers under cut and carry system; and

(b) identify sources of improved breeds of small ruminants for farmers to rear or multiply them for supply to other farmers.

5.2.4 Conservation measures for civil works Minimal tree destruction when constructing roads

The government through DREA will:

(a) review and amend the relevant Acts to restrict tree felling during civil works.

The Department of Roads (DOR) will:

(b) stabilise all road cuts;

(c) construct mitre drains up to natural waterways or dig soak pits which should be maintained if and when necessary;

(d) rehabilitate all borrow sites e.g. gravel collecting sites;

(e) minimise constructing wooden bridges and instead concentrate on constructing concrete or steel bridges; and

(f) plant trees along bare highways. Appropriate allocation of settlement sites

Chiefs will ensure that there is no:

(a) encroachment in protected areas.

(b) allocation of land in prescribed catchment areas, along river banks, and steep slopes.

The Government through the MFNR will ensure that there is no encroachment, and that local communities are sensitized on the importance of protected areas. Empower chiefs to sanction tree felling in settlement areas

Chiefs will need to sanction felling of trees where dwelling units are to be constructed such that there is no unnecessary felling.

5.3 Deforestation

5.3.1 Agricultural expansion Improve land productivity

The government through the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) and appropriate NGOs will:

(a) Improve land productivity by sustainable land saving technologies;

(b) develop acceptable High Yield Varieties, (HYVs) for farmers to adopt;

(c) ensure availability of seed, fertilizer and other inputs at affordable prices;

(d) promote mixed and inter-cropping (section;

(e) promote agroforestry (section;

(f) promote construction of permanent physical conservation measures (section;

(g) train farmers to make and properly apply compost manure;

(h) encourage farmers to apply organic and inorganic fertilisers;

(i) intensify training of farmers in modern/improved farming practices; and

(j) promote modern farming methods for fingermillet thereby curbing the current slash-and-burn practice followed by farmers in some areas. Introduce and promote alternative high value crops

The DAR will conduct research on alternative high value crops to tobacco, which do not require use of substantial forest products for processing.

The DAET will:

(a) promote production of alternative high value crops; and

(b) train farmers in cultural practices for the introduced alternative crops. Amend legislation on leased land for agricultural use

The Government through DLV will:

(a) review and amend the legislation on leasing of land for agricultural use specifically to include the increase of mandatory afforestation hectarage beyond the current 10% and appropriate penalties for non-compliance; and enforce relevant covenants through increased inspectorate;

(b) restrict the size of land to be leased for agricultural use;

(c) acquire underutilised leased land in estates for redistribution to the land-less; and

(d) continue reviewing land rent towards achieving equitable levels. Diversify economic base

Government through the Ministries of Energy and Mining (MEM), Commerce, Industry and Tourism (MCIT), Labour and Human Resource Development (MOLMD) and Finance (MOF) will:

(a) promote mining through adequate provision for geological exploration of mineral resources;

(b) promote industrial development (MCIT);

(c) promote small-scale industries in rural areas (MCIT);

(d) Intensify vocational training of school leavers to promote self-reliance (MOLMD);

(e) identify and encourage lending institutions to provide soft loans to enterprising Malawians for small-scale rural industries; (MCIT and MOLMD); and

(f) promote tourism (Tourism Department) including eco-tourism (National parks and forestry).

5.3.2. Uncontrolled bushfires Create awareness on the negative effect of bushfires.

The Government through DOF will: 

(a) intensify campaigns against uncontrolled bushfires through radio, newspapers, posters and video shows including establishment of fire breaks;

(b) formalize Chiefs responsibility on forest resources on customary land and assist them to institute communal policing of customary forests; and

(c) enact legislation against setting uncontrolled bushfires, with penalties clearly stipulated (OOF and MOJ).

5.3. 3. Fuelwood extraction

(A) For domestic use Plant multipurpose trees around homestead

People will be encouraged to plant and tender multipurpose trees around their homestead with technical advice from DOF, DAET and (LRCB). Establish individual woodlot

People with relatively large landholding will be encouraged to establish suitable woodlot and manage them. Establish village woodlot

Chiefs will provide land for establishment of village and school woodlot which will be managed through VDCs and school committees. Improve management of forest resources on customary land

Government through the DOF will:

(a) relinquish control of forest resources on customary land;

(b) empower Traditional Authorities (TAs) and Sub-Traditional Authorities (STAB) to manage and use the resource sustainably; and

(c) provide technical advice to TAs and STAs on proper management and utilisation of forest resources on customary land. Promote use of fuelwood saving stoves

The government through the Department of Energy (DOE) in collaboration with other institutions and NGOs will:

(a) conduct more research on fuelwood saving mud stoves and portable stoves;

(b) identify local entrepreneurs for mass production of the portable stoves;

(c) create awareness on the advantage of mud stoves and potable stoves.

(d) train rural women on how to construct and use a mud stoves; and Diversify sources of energy

The government through the DOE in conjunction with other institutions and some NGOs will:

(a) conduct more research on use of solar energy and biogas;

(b) promote use of coal;

(c) train people on how to use and maintain biogas and solar energy; and

(d) encourage education institutions and hospitals to use electricity, coal or solar energy for cooking or heating purposes. Reduce tariffs of electricity and paraffin

The Government in conjunction with ESCOM and Petroleum Control Commission of Malawi will consider adjusting tariffs of electricity and paraffin in order to promote wider use of the commodities by low income groups;

The Government will reduce the taxes on electrical appliances to reduce prices of the items. Accelerate rural electrification programme

The Government will: accelerate the rural electrification programme to cover more areas, and waive the cost of provision and installation of transformers. However, this would also require improvement in housing type to match electrification requirements.

(B) For commercial and industrial use Stop use of indigenous woodfuel in industries

The Government through the DOF and DOE will encourage woodfuel-using industries to establish their own plantation or use of planted wood. Promote use of planted wood for fuel and charcoal

The Government through DOF will:

(a) ensure that wood fuel and charcoal are available throughout the country by maintaining appropriate plantations

(b) train people with planted woodlot on how to make charcoal from planted trees;

(c) encourage efficient utilisation of wood. Establish demand driven woodlot

NGOs will be encouraged to assist in the establishment of communal forests and Chiefs, through VDCs, will identify suitable land (sections and

5.3.4 Conservation measures for civil works

(see section 5.2.4.).

5.3.5 Inadequate management of public and private forest and encroachment

(A) Public forests Improve management skills

The MFNR will:

(a) recruit and train more personnel in forest and wildlife management;

(b) provide material and human resources required for proper management of forestry and wildlife resources. Promote participatory management of forest and wildlife reserves
(a) The MFNR and Treasury should retain part of the revenue from forest and wildlife reserves to establish a revolving fund which shall be used to develop areas adjacent to these resources.

(b) MFNR will continue to promote the participation of local communities in the management of the resources. Create awareness on importance of forest and wildlife reserves

The MFNR will:

(a) intensify public awareness campaigns through radio, newspapers, posters and video shows on the importance of forest and wildlife reserves; and

(b) introduce environmental education in primary and secondary schools and the University in conjunction with Ministry of Education.

(B ) Private forests Improve management of private forests 

The Government through the DOF will:

(a) facilitate forestry management refresher courses; and

(b) provide technical bulletins and brochures on forest management.

5.4. Water resources degradation and depletion 

5.4.1 Waste production and disposal Raise environmental awareness and legislate appropriate waste production 

Government will:

(a) encourage companies through DREA to raise awareness of their employees about the dangers of industrial waste materials;

(b) provide incentives through reduced taxation or import duties to companies investing in cleaner technologies through the Treasury;

(c) encourage companies to adopt waste minimization through recycling programmes; and

(d) promulgate legislation requiring companies to categorize and quantify the waste they generate and how to dispose of it;

(e) introduce "polluter pays principle";

(f) invest in conventional disposal facilities and provide infrastructure to improve service provision.

(g) through MOLMD implement proposals on disposal of waste through appropriate legislation.

The LAs should review their by-laws to take into account environmental problems that arise from development activities within their jurisdiction. Reduce contamination of water arising from the transportation and storage of wastes

The Government through MCIT will:

(a) initiate research into problems of collection, storage and transportation of wastes, so as to come up with proper guidelines; 

(b) introduce legislation for companies to provide warnings and labels on vehicles transporting their wastes. Reduce contamination of water due to improper disposal of industrial wastes.

The Government will:

(a) initiate research into proper disposal for wastes not fit for land fills;

(b) through DREA in collaboration with LAs, raise awareness in villages on the dangers of accepting the industrial wastes on their land;

(c) accede to the Basel Convention and seek financial and technical assistance on the country's waste management problems.

5.4.2 Human and municipal waste disposal Minimize waste at source:

The LAs will:

(a) ensure that households which are not connected to a sewer network have septic tanks or pit latrines appropriately sited;

(b) ensure that households in areas not covered by a refuse collection service have rubbish pits;

(c) introduce the separation of different types of waste before disposal.

Local leaders should ensure that all households have pit latrines. Improve waste collection and transportation of municipal wastes.

The LAs will:

(a) improve the solid waste collection services, by e.g. introducing rubbish banks in traditional housing areas including squatter areas;

(b) regularly maintain sewers to prevent overflowing;

(c) ensure that standards for sewer construction and maintenance are enforced;

(d) ensure that master plans for their sanitation programmes are developed;

(e) intensify public education on rubbish disposal. Improve conveyance and disposal of wastes.

The LAs will:

(a) practice sanitary waste disposal methods at landfills;

(b) ensure that siting of landfills and sewage treatment plants should take into consideration hydrological and soil characteristics as well as proximity to human settlement;

(c) ensure that sewerage plants which have exceeded their designed capacities are improved by the responsible authorities;

(d) invest in affordable sewerage systems;

(e) introduce hazardous waste treatment and management centres.

(f) sensitize the general public on the dangers of scavenging at refuse pits.

The Government will undertake research to determine the proximity of pit latrines and septic tanks appropriate to water sources

since the recommended 50 metres seems to be inadequate. Such a study to be meaningful it should take into consideration the effect of hydrological and soil characteristics on the recommended siting distance.

5.4.3 Agro-chemca1 run-off Minimize. use and run-off of agro-chemicals.

The Government through:

(a) the DAR and DAHI will conduct research and promote integrated pest management.

(b) the DAET will:

i. encourage farmers to use organic manure;

ii. continue training farmers on proper application of fertilisers and pesticides;

iii. encourage land conservation practices to impede runoff. Proper handling of agro-chemicals

The Government through MCIT, MOA and MOLMD will:

(a) enforce legislation on the importation, sale, transportation, storage and use of pesticides;

(b) provide guidelines on the proper disposal of empty containers and expired agro-chemicals.

5.4.4 Sedimentation and siltation

(see sections 5.2 and 5.3).

5.4.5 Oil spillage Minimize oil spillage by vessels and tankers

The Ministry of Transport and Communication will:

(a) not renew licences of oil tankers once it is established that they are discharging oil;

(b) regularly inspect vessels and motorised boats against oil spillage and impose appropriate penalties on anybody contravening any regulations. Halt water contamination by oil from garages:

The Ministry of Local Government will ensure that LAs:

(a) regularly inspect garages and to ensure- that oil traps are operating efficiently. 

(b) identify alternative disposal methods including possible recycling of engine oil.

5.4.6 Water resources degradation and depletion Arrest depletion of Malawi's water resources

The Government, through the Water Resources Board, will ensure that every water abstraction has a water right.

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Contents | Foreword | Acknowledgments
Chapters:  | One | Two | Three | Four | Five | Six | Seven
Lists: | Figures | Maps | Tables | Appendices