Review of Flood Based Livelihood Systems Experiences in Malawi

Written by Rainwater Harvesting Association of Malawi  |  Added on August 20, 2017   |   Filed under News

Kaporo North FBLS farmers


The Rainwater Harvesting Association of Malawi, together with the Flood Based Livelihood Network and Meta Meta Research Based in Netherlands are implementing a three year joint programme called “Africa to Asia and Back Again; Testing the Adaptation of Flood Based Resource Management” The goal of the programme is to contribute to the build up of practical knowledge and national and local capacity to systematically and comprehensively support the productive use of flood based farming (FBFS) for poverty alleviation and inclusive growth in water -stressed regions of Africa.

A review of the flood based farming practice in Malawi was recently conducted. The main aim of the exercise was to assess and determine the type of FBFS being practiced in the country, the opportunities, the impacts on peoples likelihoods and the challenges that exist. Central to this investigation was to document the existence of flood based irrigation schemes in the country and how they can be improved   conducted by the FBLN Malawi Chapter to understand the current practice in FBLS in Malawi. The team visited flood prone districts in the country and had discussions with Farmer district extension staff.


The field visits were conducted by four teams comprising of a Team leader and 3 Enumerators. A number of data collection tools were used to collect information including a household questionnaire and  checklist for focus group discussions. Most of the questions asked were open ended to enable the respondents express themselves freely.


An enumerator interviewing a farmer in Karonga District (Picture by Macpherson Nthara, 25th July 2017)

Key findings

  • FBFS are an integral part of communities living in flood prone areas.
  • Though the potential of flood based farming systems has not been fully assessed, this potential is huge and it contributes significant to food and income security of these communities.


A farmer in a Bean field under FBFS  in Nkhata bay District, Nothern Malawi, (Picture by Macpherson Nthara, 26th July 2017)

  • There are variations in FBFS across the country which offers an opportunity for farmer to farmer learning
  • The range of crops produced under FBFS ranges from Rice, Maize, Beans, Sweet Potatoes and horticultural Crops.
  • Crops grown under FBFS are mostly for how consumption and also for sale.
  • There are a number of traditional spate irrigation schemes across the country, some which have been earmarked for improved.
  • Farmers practising FBFS face a number of challenges including the lack of markets for their crops and the lack of mechanization.
  • A number of challenges faced in FBFS can best be solved through research.

Way forward

A number of activities have been lined up including

  1. Meeting of experts to discuss the findings from the review and identify research areas
  2. Staff capacity building in FBFS and rainwater harvesting
  3. Farmer capacity building
  4. Farmer to farmer field learning visits
  5. Production of Information Education and Communication materials
  6. Publicity and advocacy via media houses
  7. Launch of the Roads for Water Campaign



© 2019 Rainwater Harvesting Association of Malawi