Geospatial information for sustainable food systems

A geospatial assessment of the impact of flood in support to the restoration of irrigation schemes in Malawi

Year published: 20/12/2022

The southern and central provinces in Malawi are vulnerable to extreme weather events such as floods and droughts. Over 75% of the irrigated land in the Southern  region of the country is located in Nsanje and Chikwawa districts. In early 2022, the region has been impacted by various extreme events such as tropical Storm Ana in January 2022, followed by Tropical Cyclone Gombe in March 2022. The tropical cyclones and storms caused strong winds and heavy flash flooding event in several districts and urban centres, impacting irrigated land and productive infrastructure.

In this context, the Geospatial Unit at the Land and Water Division (NSL) of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations provided technical assistance to the Government of Malawi to assess the impacts of 2022 tropical storms and cyclones on irrigated land and infrastructure using innovative geospatial technologies.  

In close collaboration with the Department of Irrigation and using remote sensing techniques as well as available national datasets on irrigated land and infrastructure, irrigated land area was characterized.  Likewise, inundated irrigated land area was assessed, potential pluvial, fluvial and flash flood impacted areas were analyzed. The results were mapped and provided in tabular format for easy reference of national and district-level authorities. According to the results, most of the impacted irrigated areas, that require technical assistance and perhaps further assessments and interventions, are located in the Chikwawa (15 103 ha) and Nsanje (12 960 ha) districts.