Malawi and the challenges of adapting to climate change

If rich countries do not drastically improve their record on climate finance commitments, communities in Malawi and elsewhere will continue to pay the price, Twapashagha Twea writes.

Malawi is no stranger to climate shocks, with four major cyclones hitting the country in only the last five years.

Droughts and floods are also increasing in frequency and severity, with serious consequences for the population that largely depends on agriculture. It’s a similar story around the world, with floods, storms and wildfires seemingly never out of the headlines.

Meanwhile, conversations about how much climate finance should be paid to developing countries, and who specifically should pay it, rumble on.

When negotiations are in the spotlight, as they will be later this year at COP28, it’s easy to lose track of the impact that chronic underfunding is having in countries that are not only among the least prepared for climate-related disasters, but also are the least responsible for the crisis.

In March of this year, Cyclone Freddy brought six months’ worth of rainfall to Malawi in just six days, resulting in devastating floods and mudslides.

Over 1,000 people were reported dead or missing, with a further 500,000 displaced. Close to 205,000 hectares of farmland were destroyed, along with homes, schools, markets and hospitals.

What made Freddy particularly devastating was the fact that the country is yet to address the damages caused by two previous cyclones: Ana in February 2022, and Gombe the following month.

As long as the current huge shortfall in adaptation finance persists, many communities will remain exposed.

Ryan Banda

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