Chapter 1: Introduction


Malawi is a landlocked, densely populated country south of the Sahara. It occupies the southern part of the East African Rift Valley. The country lies between latitudes 9° 22' and 17° 03' S and longitude 33° 40' and 35° 55' E. The total territorial area is 119,140 km2 of which, 20,908 km2 (20%) is covered by surface water resources dominated by Lake Malawi. The country is bordered by Mozambique to the south, east and west; Tanzania to the north and Zambia to the west (Map.1).

Malawi is endowed with natural resources, which includes some of the most fertile soils for agricultural use in Southern Africa. The country has forest resources covering almost 40% of the land area, abundant water resources and a remarkably diverse flora and fauna, of which the uniquely rich and diverse fish resources stand out. If properly utilized, these resources can support sustainable development of the country. However these resources are currently challenged by a complex interaction of several factors which include:

The rapid rate of population growth of 3.2% per annum imposes an ever rising pressure on the country's natural resources, the human habitat and economic and social infrastructure;

  1. frequent adjustments in fuel wood rates and urban and district water tariffs,
  2. stricter enforcement of estate conservation and afforestation covenants,
  3. strengthening of regulatory framework for pesticide use and industrial pollution,
  4. development of new soil conservation measures, and
  5. institutional strengthening in environmental policy formulation.
Malawi is also committed to international environmental conventions as Contracting Party and has acceded to a number of conventions, listed in section

In accordance with its own policies and as a signatory to 'Agenda 21' of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), Malawi has shown greater commitment to environmental protection for sustainable development by having its National Environmental Action Plan (NEAP).

The NEAP is a government undertaking to provide the framework for integrating environment in the overall socio-economic development of the country through broad public participation. Its specific objectives are:

  1. to document and analyze all major environmental issues and measures to alleviate them;
  2. to promote sustainable use of natural resources in Malawi;
  3. to develop an environmental protection and management plan.
The NEAP also provides specific guidelines to:
  1. actions to be taken by local communities with or without government/non-governmental assistance;
  2. actions to be taken by government or ether agencies;
  3. modify existing programmes and projects to adequately cover environmental concerns; and,
  4. selection of projects for the Environmental Investment Programme (EIP).
The NEAP consists of three volumes, namely:

Volume 1: The Action Plan, which describes the environment and development in Malawi, identifies and discusses key environmental issues, prescribes actions to address these, and draws up the institutional framework for the implementation of the NEAP.

Volume 2: The Initial District Environmental Action Suggestions (IDEAS), which presents the conclusions from eight district workshops.

Volume 3: The Preliminary Environmental Investment Programme (EIP), containing project concepts, which have emerged through the NEAP process as priorities for further project preparation, thereafter it will become an investment programme in support of the Action Plan within the Public Sector Investment Programme (PSIP) .

The NEAP document has seven chapters. Chapter one gives the background and the objectives; while chapter two describes the process leading to the production of this document. Environment and development are discussed in chapter three, while environmental issues are analyzed in chapter four. Actions to mitigate environmental problems are presented in chapter five and the institutional framework for the implementation of the actions is presented in chapter six. The final chapter makes a summary of the document and draws attention to the most important recent environmental policy decisions taken by the Government and highlights the most urgent policy recommendations of the NEAP.

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