In these two extracts from its Human Development Report 2007/2008, the UN Development Programme tells both how climate change paints a bleak picture for Malawi, and how public policies can reduce vulnerability to climate risk.
Climate change models paint a bleak picture for Malawi. Global warming is projected to increase temperatures by 2–3ºC by 2050, with a decline in rainfall and reduced water availability.
Subsequent harvests showed that this productive inputs programme was a moderate success. Good rains and an increase in the area planted to improved crop varieties raised productivity and overall output. It is estimated that the programme generated an additional 600,000–700,000 tonnes of maize in 2007, independent of rainfall variation.
The value of this extra production has been estimated at between US$100 million and US$160 million, compared with the US$70 million cost of the programme. The Malawian economy has also benefited from a reduction in food import requirements. And the increased production has generated household income and employment opportunities.
The productive inputs programme is not a stand-alone strategy for human development. Nor is it a panacea for rural poverty. Far more needs to be done to strengthen the accountability of government, tackle deep-seated inequalities and increase the level of investment in basic service provision for the poor. The programme will have to be retained for several years if it is to break the cycle of low productivity that afflicts Malawian agriculture.
Nevertheless, the country's experience underlines the role that public policies can play in reducing vulnerability to climate risk by creating an enabling environment for poverty reduction.
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