Modern Cooking for Healthy Forests in Malawi
Tetra Tech is promoting alternative cooking solutions, sustainable forest management practices, and regulation to address forest degradation linked to growing urban charcoal demand.
More than 96 percent of households rely on wood fuels as their primary cooking and heating fuel—one of the main threats to Malawi’s forests. In addition, more than 75 percent of urban households also rely on charcoal—the single most significant driver of forest loss in Malawi—as a main source of cooking and heating energy. In 2019 it was projected that national demand for charcoal and firewood exceeded sustainable supply as a result of rapid population growth and urbanization. As a result, Malawi needs to implement innovative solutions that balance citizens’ energy needs and proper management and utilization of forestry resources.
Many thanks for sharing and well done indeed to you and your team for such a well-run event. It was a great pleasure to be involved. Good luck going forward.Martin Dawson, Deputy Development Director, FCDO in reflection of the Malawi Clean Cooking Fund launch event.
To reduce dependency on wood fuels—and specifically charcoal—and conserve forest cover in Malawi, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the U.K. Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) cofunded the Modern Cooking for Healthy Forests (MCHF) in Malawi Activity. MCHF is designed to promote sustainable forest management in select landscapes and alternative energy options in select urban demand centers to maintain forest cover and reduce land-based emissions. By increasing the demand for alternative and efficient energy options and technologies, and the supply of sustainable wood fuels from well-managed forest resources, MCHF will help Malawi reduce unsustainable tree cutting in both public and customary forests, improve forest cover, and conserve associated watersheds.
The Activity builds on the strong foundation laid by USAID’s Protecting Ecosystems and Restoring Forests in Malawi Activity (PERFORM), which supported effective governance and forest management processes, built Malawi’s REDD+ readiness capacity, and promoted low-emissions land use opportunities. MCHF applies a landscape approach that encompasses interventions across multiple geographic scales and land use types, including urban and peri-urban areas, forest reserves, plantations, customary land, and smallholder farms, to address wood fuel supply and demand dynamics holistically. The Activity also builds system-level resilience through an integrated land use management framework that seeks to integrate policies across sectors in order to harmonize development and conservation objectives.
The MCHF strategy will reduce unsustainable wood fuel demand, increase sustainable wood fuel supply, and strengthen Malawi’s business and regulatory enabling environment by:
- Implementing a landscape approach that addresses wood fuel supply and demand and reduces underlying drivers of forest cover loss
- Developing inclusive and sustainable market systems across alternative energy, sustainable charcoal, and forestry value chains by engaging a wide range of actors within each value chain, identifying leverage points that overcome market constraints, and facilitating market-based solutions that utilize local systems and resources
- Engaging the private sector and mobilizing financing, investment, and additional resources that mobilize and increase investments for the alternative fuels, fuel-efficient technology, and improved forest governance and forest land restoration
- Building on and advancing key Government of Malawi (GoM) policies and strategies, particularly the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy III, Malawi 2020 Vision Document, National Charcoal Strategy (NCS), National Energy Policy (NEP), National Forestry Policy, Forestry Act, National Cookstoves Programme Roadmap, National Forest Landscape Restoration Strategy (NFLRS), National Resilience Strategy, and Malawi Renewable Energy Strategy
- Strengthening local capacity for self-reliance and sustainability by prioritizing local partners, working with and through GoM institutions, implementing facilitative market system approaches, and supporting human and institutional capacity development
By prioritizing local partners and working with and through government institutions, MCHF aims to strengthen local capacity for self-reliance and sustainability, implementing facilitative market system approaches, and supporting human and institutional capacity development. In addition, MCHF has developed an accelerator program to support early-stage entrepreneurs working in the cooking energy subsector to promote forest-friendly products and services.
The program’s design and implementation to date has improved forest governance systems and enhanced demand for fuel-efficient cooking technologies and alternative energy sources, improving the livelihoods of Malawian citizens. Among other targets, Tetra Tech’s implementation of MCHF will result in:
- 30 percent of households in urban areas have adopted alternative cooking energy sources and fuel-efficient cooking technologies
- 50 percent increase in annual conviction rate for illegal charcoal and other forestry crimes
- $10 million of investment mobilized for sustainable landscapes
- 70,000 people receiving livelihood cobenefits associated with implementation of U.S. government sustainable landscape activities
- MCHF was featured in a Mongabay article discussing how the project is supporting the country of Malawi to advance action against illegal charcoal trade
- MCHF designed and launched the Malawi Clean Cooking Fund, a $1.1 million performance-based grant fund designed to increase the supply of, and demand for, alternative cooking energies and fuel-efficient cooking technologies in Malawi, as well as the supply of sustainable wood fuels from well-managed forest resources
- Through the PERFORM project, Tetra Tech supported the amendment of the Forestry Act, which was passed by Parliament in February 2020 and assented by the President in June 2020. After communicating broadly on the changes introduced by the amended Act, MCHF has worked with the Department of Forestry and the Malawi Police Service since late-October to orient enforcement personnel to the amended Act. As a result of these efforts there were six successful cases before the end of the calendar year. These cases resulted in substantial fines, custodial sentences, and/or forfeiture of vehicles used in the large-scale transport of illegal forest produce