Communities surrounding Lake Chilwa in southern region of Malawi are spending sleepless nights over trends that the inland drainage lake, a source of their livelihood, is slowly drying up.
During a stakeholdersâ€™ discussions held at Chancellor College in Zomba last week, Members of Parliament (MPs) from Zomba, Machinga and Phalombe districts expressed worry over the sudden drying of the lake and said most of their voters depend on the lake for their survival.
Zomba Chisi MP Henry Mangulenje indicated that his people have no source of income apart from fishing from the lake and that the drying up of Lake Chilwa was cause for concern that requires urgent action.
Machinga South MP Harry Kamba told the meeting the drying of the lake which is making rice farming difficult hence farmers have poor harvests.
The meeting was organised by the Lake Chilwa Basin Climate Change Adaptation Programme (LCBCCAP) with funding from Norway. Participants included government officials, scientists, politicians, traditional leaders, local communities and academics.
Leadership for Environment and Development (Lead) southern and eastern Africa regional director Professor Sosten Chiotha welcomed the input from the participants.
“If the lake dries up, there will be loss of fishery, agriculture, as well as birds, livelihood loss affecting vulnerable groups such as the elderly, female-headed households, children, conflicts from migration based on gender roles, cultural differences, temporary shelters as well as risking HIV and Aids and not forgetting STIs.
“More income will be lost since Lake Chilwa contributes $21 million to the countryâ€™s economy annually,” said Chiotha.
He said 60 percent of the lakeâ€™s waters have been lost due to siltation, temporary shelters, low rainfall, traditional beliefs, deforestation and increased abstraction in Mozambique.