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A woman weeds a rice field in Malawi

Improving community resilience in Malawi

A three-year programme to support communities affected by climate change, food insecurity and poor water access.

The Improved Community Resilience through Increased Water Supply and Food Security programme targeted marginalised communities in the district of Nsanje. An area in Malawi highly vulnerable to climate change with frequent flooding and drought. In 2015 it was one of the worst affected by severe flooding and in 2016 by a long period of drought. A combination which has led to widespread food insecurity.

The programme aim was to increase the availability of and access to clean and safe water through rights-based, participatory and inclusive approaches to water resource management.

A woman in a field in Malawi which has been affected by severe flooding and drought
Key information


Improved Community Resilience through Increased Water Supply and Food Security


Nsanje, Malawi


April 2014 - Sept 2017

Programme value


Target population

Communities in disaster prone locations, women, girls, people living with HIV and/or disabilities.

Implementing partners

Churches Action in Relief and Development (CARD)

Centre for Environmental Policy and Advocacy (CEPA)

Funded by

Scottish Government

Our approach

The project strengthened community resilience and adaptation to climate change through rights-based, participatory and inclusive approaches to water resources.

The project engaged key stakeholders in capacity building initiatives at critical stages of the project including in planning, training facilitation and quarterly reviews. The capacity building initiatives were facilitated by several ministries such as the District Environmental Health Office (DEHO), the Information, Education and Communication department in the Ministry of Health, The District Civil Protection Committees (DCPC) and the Agriculture Extension Planning Area (EPA), among others.

The implementing partners also worked closely with decentralised Government structures at community and area level in achieving key outputs including:

  • increased availability and access to clean and safe water
  • increased agricultural production through climate smart water saving technologies
  • increased participation of district structures in water and natural resources management
  • increased resilience through improved business and marketing, access to markets and increased capital
  • strengthened community and district information systems for water resource management and climate change.
  • The number of households accessing clean and safe water has risen. At the beginning of the project, only 60% of households had access. By the end this had increased to 96%, representing 1,811 households.
  • There has been a significant reduction in the number of households accessing each water point with only eight households (38 people) per water point at the end of the project. A radical decrease from 280 households (1,400 people) at the start and much less than the recommended maximum of 250. A guideline in place to ensure adequate water supply and to prevent the need for frequent repair. 
  • The walking distance to water points has been significantly reduced from 4km to an average of 0.5km. Not only has this given women and girls more time for other activities, but it has also contributed to a reduction in gender-based violence.
  • 91% of farmers participating in the project now practice climate smart agriculture practices which has resulted in an increase in overall production by an average of 125%.
  • Households have reported an increase in access to diverse food groups such as vegetables and animal based protein as well as greater food security due to increased income from the irrigation schemes.
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Improving community resilience in Malawi
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