World Bank figures show that the population of Malawi has grown from around three million in 1964 to 14 million today..
But Lake Malawi is not growing. It is a finite resource. What happens when you increase demand on a finite resource?
The evidence is already out there. We all know that our beloved chambo is getting scarce and expensive by the day.
A 200g piece of chambo today, if you find it may cost you more than a kilogramme of meat. Most people in our cities are no longer eating chambo on a regular basis. They eat cheaper fish or do not eat fish on a regular basis.
Fishermen are no longer fishing close to shore and get full nets of chambo or any other fish. They go further and further out into the lake for less and less fish. Some fishermen, out of necessity no longer stick to traditional methods.
To catch enough fish to sustain their families, they are now using mosquito nets instead of traditional nets. This is a challenge as it allows them to even net smaller fish.
Sadly, catching everything, including the fry that would have grown into bigger fish, accelerates the decline of fish in the lake.
It is something we cannot stop. It does not make sense to tell fishermen, who do not have an alternative source of income, to stop fishing.
But is tradition worth preserving? Yes, up to a point. The argument that the traditional way of life is most vehemently made by people who do not have to live it. Along with the traditional way of life comes those tragic child mortality rates, a totally unacceptable life expectancy level, poor access to medical care, low educational standards and so on and so on.
The traditional standard of living is in fact a poor standard of living and we need to improve it for the better. By all means preserve the good, but face up to the reality that people want, need and deserve a chance to improve their lot in life.
The trouble is that this requires huge investments and takes a long time. So far Malawi relies on overseas aid, but that comes at a price. That aside, donor aid is unreliable.
To what extent can we depend on our donors? After all, that breeds the dependency culture and that reduces self esteem.
Malawi needs to start generating its own income so that it takes charge of its destiny.
Although we are politically independent, but true independence comes with self supporting.
Some people lie that oil extraction will kill our fish in the lake. There are so many oil companies in the world, pumping oil in oceans, lakes and on the land, but they are not killing their fish.
Of course, there are disasters here and there, but there are not common.
When such things happen, some people say the whole oil exploration should be closed down. But that does not make sense because it is like having a bus accident that has killed all its passengers and arguing that we should stop driving.
What you do is to investigate the cause of the accident and put in place measures to avoid a similar accident from happening.
When the Gulf of Mexico oil spilled or Japanese nuclear power leaked, they were shut down to rectify the fault and pay compensations to victims.
The Gulf of Mexico oil spill has cost BP over $20 billion. But here is the point. Neither the Japanese nor BP stopped their projects.
They temporarily suspended operations to investigate and put in place preventive measures to avoid the accident from reoccurring.
Denial is not an answer. Everyone agrees that the lake needs to be protected and preserved for posterity, but we cannot stop the population from growing or fishermen from earning a live from resources from the lake.
Of course, if we do not plan or take precautionary measures, then the lake is doomed.
Donor aid is good, but it is unreliable and comes at an unacceptable price. It is colonialism under a different name.
We need to find ways of generating funds to secure our resources and future. This entails protecting and making best use of our resources.