UNCCD COP15: Malawi Commits to Restoring 4.5 Million Hectares of Degraded Land

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Leyman Publications
Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire

UNCCD COP15: Malawi Commits to Restoring 4.5 Million Hectares of Degraded Land

The Minister of Natural Resources and Climate Change, Eisenhower Mkaka, who is representing the President Dr Lazarus Chakwera at COP15 said Malawi is not spared in land degradation issues, and has experienced frequent and severe climate change-related droughts and floods in recent years.

However, he said that the country is geared to restore 4.5 million hectares of degraded lands by 2030 to reduce some of the climatic impacts.

“Malawi also has a Land Degradation Neutrality Target Setting report which was produced in 2017 with support from the UNCCD Secretariat. The report has defined and categorized areas to be rehabilitated by 2030 with the aim of achieving zero degradation and 25% land improvement.

“This is an ambitious target, together with the 4.5 million Bonn Challenge and AFR100 target set for 2030,” said Mkaka.

Mkaka said however, that achieving land degradation neutrality and restoring degraded lands relies heavily on the support of international organizations and the Global Mechanism of the Conventions’ efforts to mobilize adequate resources in order to enhance sustainable land management activities.

Malawi’s National Focal Point to the UNCCD Convention and Deputy Director of Forestry Teddie Kamoto said that statistics show that around 7.8 million hectares of land are degraded against the total of land area of 8.1 million hectares.

Kamoto said with degradation, farmers can cultivate but they cannot produce enough food to sustain their families.

“However, we have a number of initiatives at play, such as the landscape restoration strategy of the Forestry department. So far, we have restored about 1.5 million hectares of degraded lands. We are aiming for 2 million hectares to be restored by end of this year,” said Kamoto.

He further added that the program of restoration will also engage and support participating youth.

Commenting on the COP15 agenda back home, Famers Union of Malawi (FUM) President Frighton Njolomole said as FUM, they have various tenets of sustainable land management with a focus on climate-smart agricultural practices, intercropping and crop rotation to ensure reduced land degradation and improved soil fertility.

Njolomole said FUM is also involved in land and catchment restoration activities through the promotion of tree planting across its members; currently it has partnered with FDH Bank to plant 1 million trees in the next three years under the Go Green Initiative.

At the Conference opening on 9th May, UN Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, said that by restoring one billion hectares of degraded land between now and 2030 would help future-proof people, their homes and lands against the impacts of disasters linked to climate change, such as droughts, and sand and dust storms.

COP15 is also expected to yield policy actions to provide an enabling environment for land restoration through stronger tenure rights, gender equality, land use planning and youth engagement to draw private sector investment to conservation, farming, and land use practices that improve the health of the land.

This story was produced as part of the 2022 UNCCD Virtual Reporting Fellowship, a journalism fellowship organized by Internews' Earth Journalism Network and the Robert Bosch Stiftung. It was originally published in the Leyman Publication on May 19 2022. It has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Banner image: Malawi representative at the UNCCD COP15 conference / Credit: Leyman Publication.

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