Institutions and Ecosystem-Based Development Potentials of the Elephant Marsh, Malawi

Kosamu, I.B.M. et al. | Sustainability | 2012 | Peer Reviewed | Original research |


The Elephant Marsh, a wetland in Southern Malawi, is important for fishing, agriculture, hunting and the collection of natural resources for the livelihoods of local communities. However, there has been increasing pressure driven by a changing climate, population growth, rural poverty and agricultural conversion, all of which threaten the future of the wetland. Currently, Malawi does not have either a national wetland policy or a climate change policy and wetland issues are only marginally present in the National Parks and Wildlife Policy of 2000 and National Fisheries and Aquaculture Policy of 2001. As a result, the country lacks a framework that could be strong enough to achieve balanced and sustainable wetland management for multiple resource users. The objective of this study was to establish the development potentials of Elephant Marsh from an ecosystem-based (‘working-with-nature’) perspective. It was revealed that there are development potentials in fisheries, recession agriculture, biomass for energy, conservation and tourism. This paper emphasizes that as these opportunities are developed, there will be the need to strengthen management institutions at local and national levels, and the coordination between the two.