Malawi, a land-locked country, in southeast Africa faces significant development challenges due in part to heavy reliance on imported goods, including 100% reliance on imported petroleum. Access to modern energy is very limited with only 10% of the population with access overall, and less than 1% in some rural areas. Over 98% of household energy comes from traditional biomass like firewood and charcoal. At the same time, Malawi is classified as a low income food deficit country with 52% of the population living below the poverty line and 27% undernourished. Maize provides over half of the average daily calorie intake and over three quarters of the population is directly or indirectly involved in maize cultivation. The overreliance on singular sources of energy and food has made Malawi very vulnerable to climate change and commodity price changes. Diversification in food and energy production are top priorities of the government and are included as key components in both the Agricultural Sector Wide Approach (ASWAp) and the National Export Strategy (NES).

Roadmap for Action

The Bioenergy and Food Security Roadmap for Malawi describes the direction that the Government aims to take with bioenergy development to ensure that it contributes to enhancing food and energy security.

The Roadmap includes a brief outline of the energy and agricultural context, a summary of relevant policies and related initiatives, the vision and priorities agreed by the government, and concludes with how the BEFS Approach of FAO can assist with meeting these priorities. The Roadmap priorities defined by the Government build on existing initiatives and policies in order to maximize resources and harmonize efforts. The goal is that this document can serve as a foundation for stakeholders collaborating with the Government on bioenergy and food security to target actions for technical and policy support. While the Roadmap outlines estimated timeframes and resources required for implementation, full project proposals/documents would need to be developed for implementation of the activities included herein.

The Bioenergy and Food Security Roadmap was initiated by the Ministry of Energy as part of the process to revise the existing National Energy Policy (2003) and ensure that bioenergy development contributes to policy priorities and development objectives under the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy II. The Ministry of Energy requested technical assistance from the Food and Agriculture Organization’s Bioenergy and Food Security (BEFS) Project to assist with the development of the Roadmap, including as a core component, the formation of an inter-ministerial working group. The process commenced in February 2013 with an invitation to fourteen Ministries and Departments to join an inter-ministerial working group that would develop the BEFS Roadmap together over the following six months. The Working Group agreed to meet approximately every six - twelve weeks to discuss policy priorities, define specific actions and timeframe, and identify roles and resources for implementation.  Over the period of February 2013 – December 2013, the Working Group met a total of five times to develop the Roadmap, including a week-long piloting of the BEFS Rapid Appraisal tool, to assess the priorities identified with specific country level data and how the BEFS Approach could address existing gaps.

BEFS Malawi Working Group

last updated:  Thursday, February 13, 2014