The convention on wetlands of international importance especially as waterfowl habitat is an inter Governmental treaty popularly known as the Ramsar Convention. The convention entered into force in 1975 and now has more than 100 contracting parties all over the world. Approximately 900 wetlands have been designated for inclusion in the list of wetlands of international importance covering some 65 million hectares.

In 1997 Malawi ratified the convention and Lake Chilwa became a designated wetland of international importance. At the same time the Government of Malawi accepted the wise-use concept and other obligations mentioned in the Ramsar Convention.

The wise use of wetlands is their sustainable utilisation for the benefit of human- kind in a way compatible with the maintenance of the natural properties of the ecosystem.

Sustainable utilisation is defined as "human use of a wetland so that it may yield the greatest continuous benefit to present generations while maintaining its potential to meet the needs and aspirations of future generations".

Natural properties of the ecosystem are defined as "those physical, biological or chemical components, such as soil, water, plants, animals and nutrients and the interactions between them".


Lake Chilwa Wetland Project is implemented through Malawi’s Department of Environmental Affairs and funded by Danida.The overall objective of Denmark’s official development assistance to developing countries is to assist endeavours aimed at promoting economic growth, thereby contributing to ensuring social progress and political independence in accordance with the aims and principles of the United Nations Charter, and to promote mutual understanding and solidarity through cultural co-operation.

This policy is harnessed by DANIDA’s poverty reduction strategy which requires that assistance be both gender specific and focused on the sustainable use of natural resources through: