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Analysis of existing weather and climate information for Malawi

Climate science can support planners in making informed decisions on future investments aimed at optimising the use of scarce resources available to them. Yet there is a lack of evidence for – and detailed understanding of – gaps in the uptake of science for long-term strategies for climate-resilient development, particularly for sub-Saharan Africa.

The report, compiled by Kulima Integrated Development Solutions and the University of Leeds, reviews the scope of weather and climate information available for Malawi, taking into account both southern African and international sources of information. It provides an overview of Malawi’s current climate, nature of recent observed changes, and projected future changes based on Global Climate Model (GCM) ensembles as cited in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report, including statistically- and dynamically-downscaled projections.


Broadly-speaking Malawi, like many other southern hemisphere countries, is expected to see rising temperatures of greater that 2oC by the end of the century, with the greatest increase between September and November. The models show that rainfall is likely to increase by more than 45mm per annum, most notably in the late summer. Both variables will have implications for rain-fed agriculture in Malawi.

Malawi now includes social cash transfers within their national budgets, in part due to the Regional Hunger and Vulnerability Programme, which advocated for cash transfers as an appropriate mechanism to reduce the periodic food insecurity that southern Africa experiences. But even with the introduction of nationally driven social protection schemes within Malawi, food insecurity remains a reality and a key political issue. Downscaled projected climate changes are indispensable to future planning and adaptation in rain-fed agriculture in Malawi.

The Malawi review is the first output from the scoping phase research for the Future Climate for Africa (FCFA) programme. The programme, which is set for kick off in 2015, will aim to promote better uptake of climate science and services to support medium-term (5-40 years) adaptation decision-making in Africa. To inform the programme, CDKN has been commissioned by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) to undertake scoping phase research consisting of four case studies in Malawi, Zambia, Rwanda, Mozambique and Ghana. Collectively, this research will evaluate the needs of science users against the capabilities and limitations of current science in specific African contexts.

The Malawi review will inform a participatory workshop in July, focussing on the climate information-related needs of social protection systems, food security and disaster resilience in Malawi.

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