MALAWI – The African Development Bank Group has approved a US$13.2 million financing package from the African Development Fund for a fisheries and aquaculture development project in the country.

The country’s government will add another US$1.38 million for the Sustainable Fisheries, Aquaculture Development, and Watershed Management project designed to protect Malawi’s water resources while leveraging them to create jobs, improve health and strengthen climate resilience.

The Sustainable Fisheries, Aquaculture Development, and Watershed Management project will provide infrastructure for increased fisheries productivity and market access.

The AfDB board approval for the project was granted on 2 October 2019. The project is expected to contribute to nutritious diets, boost employment along the fish value chain, and build climate resilience along major watersheds.

“The project is expected to directly benefit 20 000 residents around the surrounding lakeshore and inland areas, as well as 250 000 fish processors, vendors, retailers, and interns, many of whom are youth and women along the value chain,” reads a statement from the bank.

The project interventions will cover 11 lakeshore and three non-lakeshore districts, including the entire basins of Lake Malawi and Chilwa, part of the Shire River system, and selected upland areas using an ecosystem approach.

Seventy-five percent of transboundary watersheds are in Malawi and they are critical fish breeding and nursery grounds.

Other expected benefits include sustained income from fisheries; increased recovery of Chambo stocks and higher incomes from value addition (processing, storage and related marketing activities). The increased access to fish protein consumption at the household level will improve nutrition in the region.

“The Bank is committed to supporting our regional member countries to make use of their living fisheries resources. This is crucial for building healthy diets and local consumption, facilitating regional trade and improving on the quality of life—especially for youth and women along the fish value chain,” said the Bank’s Blue Economy Flagship coordinator, Ahmed Khan.

The benefits extend beyond Malawi and into the wider region, while aligning with the African continent’s wider goal of developing ocean and water-based economies while protecting against climate change.

The approved resources will promote Malawi’s national development as outlined in its Malawi National Fisheries and Aquaculture Policy, its Growth and Development Strategy (MGDS III) and Malawi’s Vision 2020.