Malawi losing US$ 191m due to population growth

Impoverished Malawi is losing more than US$191 million or 5 percent of its Gross Domestic Product per year due to unsustainable use of natural resources brought by a high population growth rate, it has been learnt.

Malawi has 14 million inhabitants according to the 2008 Housing and Population Census and a fifth of its land is occupied by water.

“The largest cost result from the loss of agricultural productivity as result of soil degradation, charcoal coal, unsustainable fishing and reduced economic activity,” UNFPA Population and Development Programme Manager, Thomas Munthali noted.

Malawi population still growing from 14 million

Ironically Malawi’s economic and social development depends on its agricultural sector and has a high deforestation rate in the world at 2.8 percent per year.

“A high population growth rate means there is more pressure on natural resources and arable land, which many people depend for their livelihoods, is fragmented into smaller and smaller pieces,” Munthali said.

He said this in Salima on Monday during a two day media training on ‘Reporting on Population Dynamics and Climate Change in Malawi’.

More than 20 journalists from the country’s three regions and drawn from print, broadcast, online media and TV are attending course organised by Journo AIDS with funding from the UNFPA.

Munthali said there is need for the media to bring in the linkages of Population Dynamics and Climate Change in Malawi through evidence based advocacy and reporting.

“Rapid population growth makes Malawi vulnerable to the vagaries of climate change. In the case of Malawi, women and girls will be the most affected because they are primary providers of a number of household essential such as water, firewood and food,” he said.

Journo AIDS Chairperson Mabvuto Banda said journalists can assist to persuade policy and decision makers to move with speed to develop the much needed climate change policy.

Banda said Malawi recognises population pressure as an issue related to the ability to cope with climate change and as a factor hindering progress in meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)

“Therefore there is need for the media to generate more evidence based information to raise awareness in the general population,” he said.

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