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Area: 5888268 km2
Brazil; Peru; Suriname; France; Colombia; Guyana; Bolivia; Venezuela; Ecuador
Santa Cruz; Manaus; La Paz
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Water Quality Stress:
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City & Country

Water-Related Challenge Costs

Total annual estimated cost to address all water-related challenges: $905,186,632.00

Share of total annual estimated cost to address each individual challenge (2015 $USD):

  • Access to Drinking Water: $293,879,893.00 - [32%]
  • Access to Sanitation: $370,237,247.00 - [41%]
  • Industrial Pollution: $23,789,038.00 - [3%]
  • Agricultural Pollution: $8,693,884.00 - [1%]
  • Water Scarcity: $57,722,132.00 - [6%]
  • Water Management: $150,864,439.00 - [17%]

For more about this data, see information on WRI’s Achieving Abundance dataset here.

Water Challenges

As reported by organizations on the Hub.

Local Water Resource Governance
Upstream Water Issues

Country Overview

1.1.2.WATER USE Major water users in the country are: the municipal sector; irrigation; hydropower; industry; navigation; recreation and tourism; fisheries; and biodiversity. Water withdrawal for agricultural and municipal purposes has increased over the last decade as a result of socio-economic development and population growth. Agriculture/irrigation is still by far the major waterwithdrawing sector, followed by the municipal water supply and industry. However, an updated and comprehensive water resources and water use information database is not available in the Country Overview - Malawi country.

1.2.WATER QUALITY, ECOSYSTEMS AND HUMAN HEALTH Major environmental problems are: deforestation; land degradation; water pollution from agricultural runoff, sewage, industrial wastes; and siltation of spawning grounds which endangers fish populations. The quality of the water resources in Malawi is dependent on three major factors: -chemical composition of the parent rocks existing in the area; -extent of agricultural activities (application of agrochemicals, farming practices, land husbandry); and -disposal of industrial waste products as well as human sewage, particularly in urban areas. Generally both surface water and groundwater are acceptable for human consumption. However, due to recently increased agricultural activities, there has been considerable degradation of water resources as a result of increased siltation in rivers and reservoirs. This is most severe in areas that are under immense population pressure, resulting in serious deforestation and cultivation of marginal and other fragile areas. Groundwater is more mineralized in alluvial aquifers than in the weathered basement aquifers. Areas such as the lower Shire Valley, eastern Bwanje valley and around Lake Chilwa have saline waters. As such, the utilization of groundwater in such areas is limited due to high contents of iron, fluoride, sulphates, nitrates and Total Dissolved Solids (TDS). Irrigation development in Malawi has not had any very serious negative environmental impact. Most of the areas that have been developed for irrigation have, for as long as people can remember, been considered waterlogged areas for most of the year. As a result the impact of irrigation development in terms of waterlogging is minimal. Water-related vector-borne diseases such as malaria, typhoid, cholera and bilharzia have infected most people around the irrigation schemes in Malawi. In order to reduce the spread and intensification of such diseases, most of the schemes, and particularly those operated by the government, include a water supply and sanitation component to provide for potable water through sinking of boreholes, and proper sanitation facilities. In addition, health clinic facilities are provided to provide treatment for the affected population as well as health hygiene and education. However, there are quite a number of schemes, and especially self-help schemes, where such facilities are lacking.

2. GOVERNANCE ASPECTS 2.1.WATER INSTITUTIONS The development of irrigated agriculture is supported by several institutions including the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation (MAI), the Ministry of Water Development (MWD), the Department of Environmental Affairs, the Water Resources Board, the Department of National Parks and Wildlife, the Department of Forestry and training institutions. The Department of Irrigation (DoI), which is part of the MAI, has in the past been responsible for the actual implementation of irrigation activities. Now, the responsibility for developing irrigation projects rests with the beneficiary community, and the DoI plays the role of a facilitator. It is the duty of the department to provide advisory services in the development of irrigation programmes in the country. The department consists of a head office and eight Agricultural Development Divisions (ADDs). One task of the ADDs is to manage irrigation schemes directly. The problems of the DoI are that it is heavily understaffed and that most of the present staff require training in irrigation technology. The central function of the MWD is to facilitate the development and management of water resources in the country. Among its responsibilities are: ensuring access to safe water and related sanitation services; the provision of safe drinking water to rural communities; the collection of hydrological data; and catchment protection. It has been noted that the link between the DoI and the MWD is very weak and needs to be strengthened. The Water Resources Board is an institution within the MWD and is responsible for the granting of water rights for abstractions and discharge of effluents, as well as for monitoring the adherence to the water rights. For the development of irrigation schemes, water rights for abstraction and discharge of wastewater (drained from irrigation schemes) have to be granted by the Board. The primary function of the Department of Environmental Affairs is to ensure that the implementation of projects does not result in the degradation of the environment. For all irrigation schemes of more than 0.1km², environmental impact assessments are conducted. The Department of National Parks and Wildlife and the Department of Forestry are responsible for the protection of catchment areas that fall within their jurisdiction. Some of the rivers that are diverted for irrigation purposes arise from areas designated as national parks/game reserves or forest reserves and therefore, there is a need for collaboration between these departments and the DoI.

Country Water Profile

Coming Soon

Organizations in Malawi

We form part of the Barnes Group of Companies. We leverage our ability off owning our own steel manufacturing mill, which then supplies into our wholly owned primary manufacturing companies, who then produce standard and customer specific products which are … Learn More

Chipembere Community Development Organization is a registered Malawian Youth-led Organization that exists to promote interventions that build the well-being of under-privileged women, children youth elderly,and disabled to have quality hygiene and sanitation Background The organization was formed against the background … Learn More

Development of technologies for sustainable solutions for parts and monitoring of water supplies and support of maintenance. Learn More

HYDROC is an association of independent consultants, -scientists and -engineers, providing water-related services through a network of national and international experts. Our concept uses the synergies of our combined expertise for the successful implementation of a variety of projects. Our … Learn More

Vision: Provide sustainable livelihoods for the resource poor Mission: To empower resource poor and vulnerable families through interventions targetting poverty reduction, food and nutrition security, and environmental sustainability Goal: To contribute to socio-economic empowerment of resource poor and vulnerable families … Learn More

The mission of SSLLP is empowering resource poor and vulnerable families, through interventions targeting poverty reduction, food and nutrition security, and environmental sustainability. SSLLP works in 6 priority areas of institutional development, sustainable agriculture, climate change adaptation, WASH, financial services … Learn More

Water For People exists to promote the development of high-quality drinking water and sanitation services, accessible to all, and sustained by strong communities, businesses, and governments. OUR VISION A world where every person has access to reliable and safe water … Learn More

A research and advocacy charity working for equitable and sustainable water resource management. We work with all water users to support objective understanding of opportunities and barriers to progress, and to galvanise action based on reliable evidence, transperancy and accountability. Learn More

WaterStep responds to critical needs for safe water by evaluating and implementing solutions and teaching people to use those tools. WaterStep saves lives with safe water by empowering communities to take care of their own long-term water needs. We believe … Learn More

Projects in Malawi

The need for improved farming techniques among smallholder farmers has been aggravated by the growing world population and changing climatic conditions. This is especially true in Sub-Saharan Africa where agriculture is the main economic activity in many countries and most … Learn More

We have invested in building dams (rainwater catchments) in Tanzania and Malawi to help communities better adapt to climate change and provide water for longer periods during the dry season. Project Results (Incomplete) Learn More

In Malawi, WaterAid is contributing to the development of a national-level WASH cluster preparedness and response plan to guide the COVID-19 response of government, NGOs, and other organizations. In addition, it is supporting a COVID-19 awareness and hygiene behaviour change … Learn More

Addressing critical market barriers in accelerating private sector climate investments to help four southern African nations achieve their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). The southern African region faces significant climate mitigation and adaptation challenges, including high vulnerability to extreme climate and … Learn More

The Karonga District Safe Water for Women and their Rural Communities Project aims at addressing water challenges faced by women and young girls at household and primary healthcare levels in four villages of Katili, Mwenitanga, Mwangwebo and Mwakabanga within Traditional … Learn More

The project aims to disseminate over 8,000 improved energy efficient cookstoves to homes in Malawi. The stoves are more efficient and use less wood for household cooking and heating than traditional stoves.Malawi is classed by the United Nations as a … Learn More

RAIN supported sustainable water resources management and increased water supply access in and around the Mt. Mulanje protected area - of national economic importance and global environmental significance for its rich biodiversity. Mt. Mulanje produces abundant water resources that are … Learn More

In Dowa and Kasungu Districts, around half of rural communities live without safe water. This situation is exacerbated by the fact that around one third of existing boreholes are broken or no longer functional. These two districts remain among the … Learn More

Programme Vision In spite of the present critical role of tea in Malawian livelihoods, the future viability of this crop is not guaranteed. Based on previous assessments, including a climate mapping assessment by the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), … Learn More

WASTE Malawi and ARKAY Plastics Industry have teamed up to design, manufacture and market plastic slabs for the mass market particularly for the base of the pyramid (BOP) of both urban and rural. Learn More

Two villages in Bembeke region will be provided with two waterpumps and 50 latrines. They will receive training and education on water, hygiene and maintenance of the facilities. This will lead to a significant improvement of the health situation and … Learn More

In Malawi, one of the world’s poorest countries, 86% of people in urban areas and 65% of people in rural areas have access to basic water sources. Access to basic sanitation facilities is much lower, with only 34% of urban … Learn More

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