Climate change:Malawi’s second largest lake is drying up

Malawi’s second largest lake, Lake Chilwa, is drying up and could potentially affect the livelihoods of close to a million people that rely on it, a climate change expert has warned.

“For the past two years meteorological services has recorded drops in rainfall of less than 1,000 millimetres which has led to the lake drying up,” said Dr Sosten Chiotha, a climate change expert.

This will be the eighth time the lake, home to agriculture and natural resources valued at $21 million per year, will be drying up in the last 100 years.

“In 2011 and 2012 the total annual rainfall was 1,048 mm and 655 mm respectively…things could get worse,” said Dr Chiotha, who is also regional director for the Leadership of Environment and Development in Southern and Eastern Africa.

Over a million people in the southern parts of Malawi benefit directly from the 60 by 40 km lake through agriculture and other natural resources.

The wetlands on the lake also produce 50 percent of the total production of rice in the southern African nation. Rice is one of Malawi’s staple foods, secondly only to maize. About 20 percent of all fish stock in Malawi comes from Lake Chilwa.