Located in southern Africa, and bordered by Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia, Malawi is a small, densely populated, and landlocked country with one of the lowest levels of per capita income in the world (USD$164 in 2006). Over the past ten years, Malawi’s poverty levels have remained largely unchanged as economic growth and development have stagnated due to widespread emigration, HIV/AIDS, a deteriorating infrastructure, macroeconomic instability, limited competitiveness of Malawian products in international markets, and a rapid population growth rate. Malawi’s topography is varied; the Great Rift Valley that contains Lake Malawi stretches from North to South with elevations ranging from 800-1200 meters. Highland peaks can reach as high as 3000 meters above sea level. While the country’s climate is tropical overall, temperatures in higher elevations can be relatively cool. The flood plains, wetlands and forests of the Lower Shire Valley are particularly vulnerable to climate change, with drought and flood disasters currently affecting directly over a half million people. These areas also serve as vital habitats for wildlife and for crop production (rice, cotton, beans, sorghum, millets and sugar cane). Over the past two decades, drought and flood events have increased in frequency, intensity, and magnitude with negative consequences for food and water security, water quality, energy and the sustainable livelihoods of rural communities.
Selected Indicators for Impacts and Vulnerabilities