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Thursday, 03 April 2014

Malawi: Climate Change and Water Management

Climate change and its consequences are a challenge for small-scale farmers in Chingale,Malawi. To adapt to climate change, farmers are integrating fish farming and crop irrigation to their farming practices in order to provide extra food and income.
However, the growth of irrigation-fish farming has led to an increase in the demand for water, and consequently raised conflicts over access to water sources.
In order to make better decisions about water management and allocation, WorldFish, the International Water Management Institute (IMWI), and the University of Osnabruck, in collaboration with national partners in Malawi, Zambia and Mozambique, have conducted a collaborative research project called, “Enhancing adaptive capacity to climate change impacts through well managed water use for aquaculture integrated with small scale irrigation in the Chinyanja Triangle in Africa”.  The project aimed to evaluate the benefits of integrating fish farming and small-scale irrigation by identifying enhanced water allocation and management strategies in the face of climate change. The water resources were assessed under current and future climate scenarios and the water demands for different crop and fish production scenarios were modelled.
When the results were presented to farmers in Chingale, they felt responsible to ensure that the effects of climate change are mitigated. In regard of the need to share the limited water resources, local leaders have taken a leading role in sharing water equitably. Villages that have the water, but don’t have enough land for irrigation, share with those that don’t have water but have the land. The farmers allocate each other a piece of land so that every farmer wishing to integrate fish farming and irrigation to its practice fish farming or irrigation can do it.
To deal with irregular rainfall, farmers have started constructing deeper ponds to increase their water storage area. The ponds help in the harvesting and storing of rainwater. They also allow to reduce pressure on other water sources.
Through sharing research and best practices, the project has given the farmers the opportunity to have the knowledge they need to take a leading role in protecting and managing the water resources they depend on.
Source: WorldFish