Earlier this month, USAID and Pact launched a $14 million initiative to enable communities and the local government to protect four of Malawi’s main lakes, a significant contributor to the health of the country and its people. Caring for these ecosystems will improve the health and livelihoods of tens of thousands of households that rely on the lakes and surrounding ecosystems for nutrition and income.
The four lakes provide up to 85 percent of Malawi’s annual fish production, a vital source of protein and fundamental to food security in the country. In addition to supporting individual health and nutrition, fish provide livelihoods for up to 65,000 fishers and more than 300,000 traders and processors.
Despite the obvious importance of fish to the health and economies of local communities, the fisheries are under considerable stress due to population growth, catchment degradation, climate change and unsustainable harvest and management practices.
Pact is partnering with Rhode Island University, Christian Aid, Emmanuel International, Wildlife Society of Malawi, Community Initiative for Self Reliance, and the Center for Environmental Policy and Advocacy to address these challenges, focusing on climate change adaptation and biodiversity conservation.
The project is part of five new USAID sustainable economic growth projects in Malawi totaling $140 million. The projects will create a network for collaboration and integration, encouraging sharing of skills and expertise across similar geographic locations throughout the country.
The Malawi Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining and the Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development kicked off the launch, which was attended by more than 100 local dignitaries and project representatives and more than 1,000 members of the public.
Pact and partners hosted a pavilion at the launch demonstrating the changes in fisheries during the past 50 years and best practices that will be implemented in the lake communities.
The five-year project will target 250,000 hectares of lake area and benefit 70,000 people and more than 50 institutions.