Ecosystem Conservation in the Shire River Basin, Malawi

‘Evaluating the Design and Effectiveness of Incentive-based Ecosystem Conservation in the Shire River Basin, Malawi and Its Impact on Community Livelihood’
Eddah Lijoni


Environmental degradation continues to cause impacts on the economic and social aspects of development through the disruption of ecological system functions. Degradation from deforestation and extension of agricultural practices for instance leaves land vulnerable to erosion and saturation of chemicals among other things. Degradation of the Shire River basin in Malawi has caused the deterioration of the river hence affecting its capability to generate electricity. Sedimentation, flooding and eutrophication are some of the impacts on the river. Malawi has high rates of population growth and poverty. This, coupled with high dependence on subsistence farming and the extensive use of firewood and charcoal as sources of energy, puts pressure on natural resource use and the Shire River basin has not been spared. Through various institutional arrangements, policies on environmental management that are mainly command and control have been developed and implemented with little success as the rate of degradation continues to rise. Incentive-based policy instruments have rarely been used in Malawi with just a few running and some proposed forestry and soil conservation projects. The Shire River Basin Management (SRBM) Project is currently operating to address the degradation of the river using the Community Environmental Conservation Fund (CECF). The purpose of this study is to evaluate the (SRBM) Projects outcomes and effectiveness in conserving the Shire River and understand the local communities’ response to this kind of conservation as well as how their participation or not has affected their livelihood status. The study also aims to reveal how the elements of incentive-based policy instruments have been included in forestry legislation and policies to offer guidance for best practice and ensuring effective conservation outcomes. The study is expected to produce results that show how the CECF has been designed and how it has achieved its conservation outcomes and local communities’ livelihood improvement.

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