The unsustainable use of natural resources and agricultural practices cost Malawi the opportunity to lift 1.9 people out of abject poverty between 2005 and 2015, the latest United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) report says.
The report states that more women farmers than men are not adopting modern farming methods and practices, which has tended to limit their agricultural production.
The UN Resident Coordinator, Maria Jose Torres, has since challenged the Malawi government to accelerate the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to uplift millions of Malawians still trapped in abject poverty.
Torres made the remarks in an interview in Lilongwe on the sidelines of the launch of the reports from the Poverty Environment Initiative (PEI) and Poverty Environment Action for SDGs (PEA) on Wednesday.
PEA is a continuation of the work under the predecessor PEI through a partnership of UN and the Government of Malawi.
“Natural resources provide the bedrock of the country’s main economic activities and the livelihoods for the majority of the population. Thus, unsustainable use of natural resources makes the country highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and degradation of the environment and natural resources,” said Torres.
“As a result, any unsustainable use of the country’s abundant natural resources means that the performance of the overall economy would be greatly compromised,” she added.
In his remarks, Secretary to the Treasury, Cliff Chiunda, said the reports provide new insights that could shape the policies and strategies for use by the government and its stakeholders in addressing the linkages between poverty, environment and natural resources management and agricultural production in a gender disaggregated manner.
Chiunda further stated that the reports will also provide inputs into optimum resource allocation in a way that could help the country to achieve SDGs, especially those that deal with food security, poverty reduction and the environment.
“Our failure to conserve and use the environment and natural resources in a sustainable manner presents a huge survival risk to many Malawians. The link between poverty and environment has always been evident, but we have often taken it for granted,” he said.
Meanwhile, Torres has disclosed that UN is coming up with a new joint programme on Poverty Environment Action for SDGs whose major goal is to support the Malawi Government implement key policies, particularly at the district level to improve food security and people’s lives.
She said the joint programme intends to strengthen linkages between the community’s environment and natural resource management-related activities, and national and district level plans and policies, to ensure that policies developed at national level are implemented and have an impact at community level.