9 District Social Economic Profiles and 5 District State of Environment and Outlook Reports mainstream poverty-environment in Malawi
In 2010, the Government of Malawi developed the first Malawi State of Environment Report with support from the Poverty-Environment Initiative. A key challenge in developing the report was the lack of accurate district level data. To enhance district environmental management and improve data availability, the Government, with support from Poverty-Environment Initiative, revised the Decentralized Environment Management Guidelines in 2013. The revised guidelines are meant to address the gaps and inconsistencies from the previous manual that were being used by the districts.
By using the guidelines and the Malawi State of Environment Report, five districts have included poverty-environment references in the 2014 District State of Environment Reports. Yasinta Ganiza, Environmental Officer from the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Management said to the Daily Times at the launch of the Mwanza District State of Environment Report that “the report provides a picture of the state and trends of the environment and natural resources in the district, thus informing the Council to make appropriate resource allocations.” This is a significant step which will help support the monitoring and review of the state of environment and its implications for poverty reduction in order to inform policy and budget decisions.
Another purpose of the guidelines is to help ensure that district councils include critical environmental issues, such as waste management and climate change, in the preparation of district social and economic profiles (SEPs). In 2014, nine district SEPs have included references to the poverty-environment including gender nexus. The SEPs will in turn be used to develop District Development Plans in 2014/15 and the inclusion of poverty-environment references are expected to ensure related objectives in the District Development Plans.
The Nsanje Social and Economic Profile can be used as an example to illustrate how the SEP’s include poverty-environment references. It highlights the impact of droughts and floods common in the district on vulnerable groups and the need to ensure vulnerable groups participation in socio-economic recovery following a natural hazard. The role of women during and after disasters and in times of displacement is further particularly highlighted. Conversely, poor natural resource management often driven by poverty is noted to contribute to the frequency of natural hazards in the district. For example, harvesting trees for fuel wood due to lack of alternative sources of energy is causing deforestation and unsustainable land use and agriculture practices are causing environmental degradation reinforcing the poverty-environment nexus.
The progress in the district followed trainings for district level planners on how to develop Social and Economic Profiles and District State of Environment Reports by using the guidelines supported by the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Management, the Ministry for Local Government and Rural Development and Poverty-Environment Initiative Malawi. The Global Environment Facility and United National Development Programme Malawi’s National Climate Change Programme have also provided support to these processes.