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Malawi

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Water Challenges

As reported by organizations on the Hub.

50.0%
Local Water Resource Governance
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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.

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Organizations in Malawi


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

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

This project will provide up to a 100 people in rural Malawi with clean and safe water. The project also includes the training of community members in pump operation and maintenance to ensure that once Pump Aid has left, the ... Learn More

To increase capacity of water treatment plants, developing a hydraulic model, assessing efficiency of pipe network system using the hydrauilc model, field work to resolve possible inefficiencies in the system 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

This project aims to provide the Mudi and Namisu Lea Primary schools with adequate sanitation systems, as well as train the school management on sanitation, hygiene and school sensitization 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

The overall objective of this emergency project is to improve access to sustainable water supply to 12.750 vulnerable people in the rural and peri-urban LIAs of Lilongwe City. This overall objective will be achieved through the provision of water kiosks, ... Learn More

A nationwide sustainable supply chain and market for low cost water products which will give an impulse to economic growth, food production and better health. This market should serve the water needs of the poor and will enable low cost ... Learn More

Suggested Resources

View the full list of 300+ resources at the Water Stewardship Toolbox

This Working Paper proposes a method whereby any decision-maker can calculate the cost required to deliver sustainable water management to a geography. Learn More

Developers: Pacific Institute

Inform and strengthen your company’s water management strategies and allow your investors to evaluate current water management activities against detailed definitions of leading practice. Learn More

Developers: Ceres

World Resource Institute's four Aqueduct assessment tools -- Water Risk Atlas, Country Rankings, Aqueduct Food, and Aqueduct Floods -- help companies, governments, and civil society understand and respond to water risks. These water risks include water stress, seasonal variability, pollution, ... Learn More

Developers: World Resources Institute

In this Nature feature, Johan Rockstrom and co-authors argue that identifying and quantifying planetary boundaries that must not be transgressed could help prevent human activities from causing unacceptable environmental change. Learn More

Nature-based solution (NBS) can improve degraded ecosystems, help sequester carbon, and manage the effects of climate change, including extreme weather events. Businesses are beginning to recognize the value of NBS for climate change mitigation, adaptation, and resilience. Learn More

Developers: Pacific Institute

Chem-MAP® is a ZDHC-approved program to improve chemical management in leather, textile, and synthetic materials supply chains. The program reduces chemical risk to customers. Learn More

Plan, Prepare and Respond- Breakdown for different industries on how to operate safely. Cleaning and disinfecting, Worker Safety, Support Resources, Mitigation Strategy Learn More

This report presents analysis of the response data from a sample of 783 of the world’s largest publicly listed companies. The report is aimed at companies and investors seeking to understand how they can play their part in delivering a ... Learn More

The Toolbox connects your business to the latest tools, guidance, case studies, datasets, and more most relevant to you based on your circumstances and interests. It features more than 250+ resources from dozens of organizations and is updated every week. Learn More

Developers: CEO Water Mandate, Pacific Institute

Checklist for restoring water quality in buildings left unused for a long duration. Learn More

Developers: EPA Office of Wastewater Management

CDC/EPA Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfecting Includes Printable Materials Learn More

This report makes the case for private sector investment in green infrastructure as part of a broader water stewardship approach. Learn More

Developers: BHP

The Cotton made in Africa standards comprise the Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) and the Cotton made in Africa-Organic (CmiA-Organic) Standard. The standards are intended to improve the living conditions of African smallholders and support sustainable cotton production. The standards ... Learn More

This guide aims to provide professionals with the practical information and resources to either start sourcing sustainable cotton or increase volumes. Learn More

Includes Immediate steps, ongoing health measures that can be taken, and responsible business practice Learn More

Based on the major combat guidelines set by the São Paulo State Government, Sabesp is fully engaged to endure COVID-19 pandemic within its operation area, which means 374 municipalities located throughout São Paulo state and home to about 28 million ... Learn More

Developers: Sabesp

Best practices- Resources- Webinars on WASH/COVID-19 topics. Learn More

Urban stormwater is becoming an increasingly important alternative water supply in California. However, current economic analyses do not adequately evaluate co-benefits provided by different stormwater investments. As a result, urban stormwater capture is undervalued. Learn More

Developers: Pacific Institute

ECO PASSPORT by OEKO-TEX is an independent certification for chemicals, colorants, and accessories used in textile and leather manufacturing. The certification verifies that each individual substance in the chemical product meets statutory requirements and does not harm human health. Learn More

The Fairtrade Cotton standard promotes sustainability and social responsiblity across the cotton supply chain. Learn More

NBS offer a promising contribution on how to enhance the availability and quality of water for productive purposes and human consumption, while preserving ecosystems. In this discussion paper, 21 case studies of water management processes are analysed, using a non-representative ... Learn More

FAO has been emphasizing the need to accelerate a global transition to sustainable food and agriculture systems, advocating an integrated approach. This document focuses on the management of water for agricultural use. Learn More

The GEMI Local Water Tool (LWT) helps organizations evaluate water-related external impacts, business risks and sufficiency of management plans at specific sites. Key Functions: Quantify water-related impacts caused by facility Quantify facility’s exposure to water-related risk Identify helpful management response Learn More

The Global Organic Textile Standard specifies a supply-chain textile processing standard that includes ecological and social criteria. The standard seeks to define worldwide requirements for textiles to be described as organic. These requirements cover the entire supply chain, from harvesting ... Learn More

The Global Water Footprint Assessment Standard can be used to provide comparable quantification and robust analytics, helping corporations, governments, and researchers manage water resources and achieve greater water sustainability. Learn More

The Green Supply Chain: Brand Map is a leadership initiative dedicated to showcasing brands’ commitment to supply chain transparency and environmental management. Learn More

This guide outlines why and how investors engage on agricultural supply chain water risk. Learn More

Developers: WWF

The Committee designed this document to guide the food industry and advise its sponsoring agencies in the implementation of HACCP systems. Learn More

Adapting to climate change, coupled with the need to address aging infrastructure, population growth, and degraded ecosystems, requires significant investment in natural and built water systems. These investments present a significant opportunity to support not only water, but to provide ... Learn More

Developers: Pacific Institute

The India Water Tool brings together 20 datasets and risk indicators to help users understand their water risks in India. Learn More

This ISO Standard helps to evaluate the sustainability of a product across its life cycle. Learn More

To provide guidance and a global framework for the design, verification and scaling up of Nature-based Solutions. The Standard includes globally consistent Criteria and Indicators, which are supported by the Principles for Nature-based Solutions, to measure the strength of interventions. Learn More

Developers: International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)

Levi Strauss &amp; Co. has issued this standard to encourage preservation of fresh water through water recycling. Learn More

Developers: Levi Strauss & Co.

To help our partners in responding to this health crisis in their countries, we have compiled different resources and tools around COVID-19 and WASH, which include documents, videos, social media materials with messages on public health, webinar recordings, etc. Learn More

With special attention to resources for utilities, this page lists relevant guidance around water and COVID-19. Learn More

Developers: American Water Works Association

This page seeks to help water sector professionals keep informed on the attributions of the COVID-19 virus and any measures needed to protect both workers and public health, in general. Learn More

How to ensure the safety of staff and maintaining water quality in buildings with little or no use. Learn More

This article presents the state of knowledge with regard to human health and well-being from contact with nature. Learn More

The United Nations World Water Development Report for 2018. Learn More

This report seeks to provide an overview of the way in which the social and economic development of continental Asia is dependent on the resources of ten rivers. Learn More

Developers: China Water Risk

One Planet Approaches consist of a family of tools, methodologies, frameworks, programs, and action plans, which recognize the need to measure and reduce human impact in relation to the absolute boundaries of the Earth system. Learn More

Levi Strauss &amp; Co. chose to publish their innovative Water&lt;Less fabric finishing techniques to encourage water-saving practices across the apparel industry. Learn More

Developers: Levi Strauss & Co.

With private enterprises playing a critical role in contributing to the safety of their staff, it is important to change some of their core operations. This guide is meant as a stepping point to begin reopening with safety as a ... Learn More

TextileExchange's report offers personal accounts from fiber and materials experts “inside” the industry, demonstrating various company strategies and fiber priorities being implemented to achieve greater sustainability. Learn More

During an infectious disease outbreak, such as the current outbreak of COVID-19, small business owners must prepare for disruption in their business as well as prepare to protect their employees’ health and safety in the workplace. These steps are recommended ... Learn More

This report uses new data and calculations to show that investments in resource efficiency, secure work environments, and sustainable materials can benefit the environment and improve profitability. Learn More

This report shows how putting nature to work can help deliver infrastructure services with greater impact and lower cost, all the while reducing risks from disaster, boosting water security and enhancing climate resilience. Learn More

CottonConnect's Responsible Environment Enhanced Livelihoods Cotton (REEL COTTON) standard is a business-driven initiative that sources sustainable cotton to improve environmental, quality, and traceability conditions in supply chain factories and farms worldwide. Committed brands and their supply chains undertake a development-oriented ... Learn More

How to ensure the safety of staff and maintaining water quality in buildings with little or no use. Learn More

This report seeks to provide an overview of the three leading water tools available for corporate water risk assessment. Learn More

Developers: Pacific Institute

SAVEh is the platform through which Ambev shares its water management system free of charge with other companies, which has helped to reduce more than 40% of the company’s water consumption in the last 13 years. This water efficiency tool ... Learn More

Developers: Ambev S/A

The Colorado River Basin states face significant water challenges, including the overallocation of water, long-term drought, and climate change. This report, commissioned by the Walton Family Foundation, explores the potential for corporate water stewardship to help solve these challenges. Learn More

Developers: Pacific Institute

The City of Austin, Texas is facing an increasingly uncertain water future, from decreasing water supplies and more intense droughts to periodic flooding and water quality impairments. Austin is addressing these challenges head on, from investments in water efficiency and ... Learn More

Developers: Pacific Institute

The Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Compass Business Tools inventory maps existing business tools against the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It allows you to explore commonly used business tools that may be useful when assessing your organization’s impact on the SDGs. Learn More

This guide aims to help companies set effective site water targets that are informed by catchment context, which can create value and lessen risks for the company and support collective action. Learn More

Developers: CEO Water Mandate

The world’s water resources are under increasing pressure from rising water consumption, pollution, and climate variability. The variety of water challenges companies face, from water governance issues to extreme events like drought, manifest in the river basins where the companies ... Learn More

Developers: Pacific Institute

This report provides findings on good practices of AWS Standard implementation. Learn More

Developers: Pacific Institute

The Soil &amp; Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) is a small watershed to river basin-scale model used to simulate the quality and quantity of surface and ground water and predict the environmental impact of land use, land management practices and climate ... Learn More

In response to the challenge of quantifying the business benefits, WaterAid, Diageo, GAP Inc., and Unilever have worked with PwC and ODI to develop a practical, step-by-step guide. The guide will help companies understand the business value of their WASH ... Learn More

Developers: WaterAid

The Sustainable Rice Platform (SRP) Standard for Sustainable Rice Cultivation is the world’s first voluntary sustainability standard for rice. The standard is complemented by a set of 12 quantitative performance indicators. By identifying “hotspots,” the indicators enable users to monitor ... Learn More

The Forest Stewardship Council created the Principles of Forest Stewardship as a worldwide standard to promote environmentally responsible, socially beneficial and economically viable management of the world’s forests. Learn More

The AWS Standard is a globally-applicable framework for major water users to understand their water use and impacts, and to work collaboratively and transparently for sustainable water management within a catchment context. Learn More

Developers: Alliance for Water Stewardship

This paper provides examples of how to make progress in service delivery in and beyond the workplace. With private enterprises playing a critical role in contributing to the safety of their staff, it is important to change some of their ... Learn More

This discussion paper examines the need for companies to openly acknowledge and discuss the business dependency on consumption, exploring the topic through three different product examples – cars, beef, and clothing. Learn More

This special Academy session covered steps businesses can take to respect and support the rights and lives of women and girls during the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn More

‘The Five Goods’ stem from Fashion for Good’s robust definition of ‘good’ and intend to guide the sector with a genuine and accountable framework with the promise of social, economic, and environmental prosperity. Learn More

Measure the environmental and social impact of your apparel products and operations. Learn More

This case study looks closely at a pair of Levi Strauss &amp; Co. stone wash jeans with the goal of helping companies in the apparel sector take more effective and holistic approaches to the industry’s environmental impact. Learn More

Developers: Levi Strauss & Co.

This tool is an interactive map linking nature-based solutions to climate change adaptation outcomes based on a systematic review of peer-reviewed literature. Learn More

Developers: Pacific Institute

This report is a culmination of industry interviews, non-government organization inputs, and desk research, the report highlights practical examples for companies in the sector and beyond, grappling with how to integrate the SDGs into their core business and global supply ... Learn More

This report explores the possibilities of scaling a circular economy, given the reality of the global economy and the complexity of multi-tier supply chains. Learn More

Developers: World Economic Forum

ToxServices' Full Materials Disclosure Screened Chemistry Program (ToxFMD®) promotes chemical optimization through chemical hazard assessment, hazard reduction, and informed substitution. ZDHC members use the program to document conformance with the ZDHC MRSL. Learn More

Water is the lifeblood of California, providing for the household needs of 40 million people and supporting one of the most productive agricultural regions in the world, various commercial and industrial activities, and the health and viability of the state’s ... Learn More

Developers: Pacific Institute

Evaluate the current status of access to safe WASH at the workplace in a given facility of your company. Assess the current status of access to safe WASH at the workplace in a given facility Support decision-making regarding investments and ... Learn More

ILO Sectoral Policies and Governance and Tripartism Departments present four self-training modules, which adapt existing ILO training tools on OSH to provide governments, workers and employers with the necessary skills to implement the general principles contained in relevant ILO instruments. ... Learn More

This UN World Water Development report evaluates the vast quantities of domestic, agricultural and industrial wastewater discharged into the environment everyday as a valuable resource rather than costly problem. Learn More

Companies are increasingly setting and pursing ‘water balance targets’ as part of their water stewardship strategies. The seeming simplicity of balance goals can be attractive – “we will restore a volume of water equal to the amount our business consumes.” ... Learn More

Developers: WWF

This report calls for an integrated approach that brings together governments, water users, and the society at large including the private sector, NGOs, and academia to design smart, adaptable and sustainable solutions for water infrastructure impacted by climate change. Learn More

The Water Risk Filter can be used to assess and respond to water related risks for your own operations, suppliers, or growth plans. Learn More

Developers: WWF

The Water Risk Filter can be used to assess and respond to water-related risks for your own operations, suppliers, or growth plans. Learn More

Developers: WWF

Safely managed water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) services are an essential part of preventing and protecting human health during infectious disease outbreaks, including the current COVID-19 pandemic. Learn More

These guidelines intend to help close the knowledge gap on wastewater treatment technologies and motivate relevant facilities in the apparel and footwear industry to implement the professional treatment systems necessary to meet the ZDHC Wastewater Guidelines. Learn More

World Resources Institute Learn More

CEO Water Mandate; CDP; The Nature Conservancy; World Resources Institute; WWF Learn More

The Sustainable Business Group; The Sustainable Fashion Academy; The Global Leadership Award in Sustainable Apparel Learn More

Swedish Textile Water Initiative Learn More

Lillian Holmes
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