10.1 ASPIRATIONS TO NATURAL RESOURCES AND ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT
Malawians aspire to have sustainably managed natural resources and the environment. This will be achieved through: ensuring well conserved and managed land; zero percent deforestation; availability of adequate and clean water resources; restored and well conserved biodiversity and ecosystems; low population growth; preventing air and noise pollution from becoming serious problems; contributing to global efforts to managing climate change and other global environmental issues; incorporating environmental considerations at all stages, and enhancing the participation of the public in the planning and implementation of natural resource and environmental programmes.
10.2 STRATEGIC CHALLENGES AND OPTIONS
10.2.1 Controlling Land Degradation
Soil erosion is a serious problem facing agriculture in Malawi. In 1994 soil erosion in Malawi was estimated to range from 13mt/ha./year to 29 mt/ha./year, averaging 20 mt/ha./year. This results in yield loss of between 4 and 11 percent per year equivalent to annual income losses per hectare of between K10 and K29. The cost associated with soil erosion has been estimated at K1,155 million per year which correspond to about 8 per cent of the country's GDP of 1994. This cost is largely that of replacing the lost nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus) and does not include the cost of replacing the lost organic carbon and other 'offsite' costs.
The strategic challenges to controlling land degradation are: preventing soil erosion, arresting deforestation, stopping expansion of cultivation to marginal areas, ending bad agricultural practices, controlling overgrazing, and reducing over-reliance on agriculture with low productivity; preventing excess accumulation of algae (eutrophication); and encouraging properly planned infrastructure and settlements.
10.2.1.2 Strategic Options
Strategic options to controlling land degradation include:
Forests are disappearing at the rate of 1.4 per cent per annum due to dependence on subsistence agriculture; excessive selling of wood to generate income; high population growth; and dependence on wood energy.
The challenge to halting deforestation is reducing over-dependence on wood- energy and dependence on wood selling to generate income; preventing uncontrolled bush fires; discouraging customs and beliefs that do not value forestry resources; encouraging long-term perspectives in managing forestry resources; and enhancing enforcement of forestry regulations and laws.
10.2.2.2 Strategic Options
The options for arresting deforestation include:
The chemical contamination of stream water in urban and peri-urban areas is becoming a common problem due to improper disposal of wastes. The absence of proper biological and physical conservation in farmers' fields has led to pollution of the aquatic environment by agrochemicals such as nitrous compounds through run-off water.
Due to inadequate sanitation facilities and other sources of organic pollution, the bacteriological quality of major rivers is poor throughout the year. Three quarters of the rivers show faecal coliform counts in excess of 500 per 100 ml in the dry season, which is significantly above World Health Organization guidelines. About 50 per cent of all illnesses in Malawi are attributed to water borne diseases.
Although Malawi faces no serious problems of excessive abstraction of water resources, there are threats of depletion due to deforestation, drought conditions, and poor management of water supply systems. Replenishment of surface water resources is totally dependent on rainfall, which is seasonal, and varies from year to year. Consequently, most of the rivers and lakes display seasonal flow patterns and dry up to a large extent in July through October every year.
The strategic challenge is to prevent pollution of water, conserve catchment areas and improve water supply systems.
10.2.3.2 Strategic Options
Strategic options to control depletion and degradation of water resources include:
The challenge to managing and developing fisheries include preventing environmental degradation, increasing support capacity within government and support to the social sector; finding alternative income generating activities; increasing access to capital markets, improving stability of annual fish availability; and controlling rapid human population growth.
10.2.4.2 Strategic Options
Strategic options to managing and developing fisheries include:
The strategic challenge to be addressed in order to develop the wildlife sector is controlling poaching, restocking depleted areas, developing ecotourism and using more participatory wildlife management approaches.
10.2.5.2 Strategic Options
In order to meet the challenge, the following are strategic options:
Factors that threaten Malawi's biological diversity include the following:- over-exploitation of biological resources; habitat degradation and pollution; introduction of invasive exotic species; selective pressures arising directly and indirectly from human activities and climatic change. These factors threaten biodiversity by causing among other things: loss of entire assemblages of species; loss of individual species within communities; and loss of genetic variability within a species.
The challenge to managing threats to biodiversity comprises how to control deforestation, pollution, siltation, invasive species, overgrazing, population growth, and bush fires and prevent illegal access to biological resources and the loss of indigenous knowledge.
10.2.6.2 Strategic Options
The strategic options to preserving and managing biodiversity include:
According to the Housing and Population census in 1987, 84 percent of all houses were grass thatched; 53 per cent had mud walls; and 89 per cent had mud floors. The situation has not changed much since then. It is estimated that 50 per cent of existing rural houses are not fit for human habitation. Most of these houses are constructed using technology that makes them not durable.
The migration of people from rural to urban areas in search of income earning opportunities has exacerbated the development of unplanned settlements and squatters. Most of these settlements lack basic services such as potable (safe) water and proper sanitation services. Poverty has worsened the situation further as people inhabit shelters of unacceptable standards.
The strategic challenge to developing and upgrading human settlements is to plan physical development; eliminate squatting in urban areas; control unhygienic behaviour; regulate street vending and provide good housing and water.
10.2.7.2 Strategic Options
Strategic options include:
Air pollution and climate change issues are currently relatively small environmental concerns. However, these can easily become serious problems if they go unchecked.
The strategic challenge to preventing air pollution and managing climate change issues include: monitoring emissions of hydrocarbons nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxides; proper management of harzadous substances and wastes; use of ozone friendly technology; establishing regulations and enacting legislation on air pollution; and promoting education on climate change issues.
10.2.8.2 Strategic Options
Strategic options to controlling air pollution and managing climate change issues include:
The challenge to preventing noise from becoming a serious problem is to deploy human resources to conduct baseline studies and initiate a program of noise prevention; providing equipment, instruments, and resources to measure noise and implement programs; conducting extensive sectoral coordination; increasing awareness of noise problems, and improving the monitoring of noise standards regulations on imported equipment/technology.
10.2.9.2 Strategic Options
The activities that can lead to reduced noise include:
The strategic challenge to proper management of hazardous substances and wastes is improving laws and regulations, the institutional set-up, and infrastructure and technologies for dealing with hazardous substances and wastes.
The strategic options include:
Malawi has a fertility rate of 6.7. This is very high especially when combined with the problem of limited acceptability of family planning messages and techniques. As a result, Malawi has a very high population growth rate. Most women have a longer period of child-bearing because they marry early and do not use birth control. This happens because they spend a shorter period at school and marry immediately after school believing that they will be supported by their husbands.
The high incidence of poverty and the belief that more children are a source of prestige and security in old age lead to large families. This increases pressure on natural resources.
The strategic challenge is to reduce population growth rate and incidence of poverty.
10.2.11.2 Strategic Options
The strategic challenge to political advocacy for proper management of natural resources and the environment is increasing political will, and discouraging politicians from having economic interests in natural resources, and increasing environmental awareness that makes it possible for politicians to get tough on proper management of natural resources.
Strategic options for encouraging more political advocacy for proper management of natural resources and the environment include;