Tetra Tech is helping improve sustainable forest management and climate resilience in Malawi.

In Malawi forest cover is rapidly declining and the quality of soils are degrading at some of the highest rates in southern Africa. This trend is caused, in part, by unsustainable energy sources, poor agricultural and land use practices, and limited economic choices. Forest ecosystem losses are eroding access to vital community resources and contributing to environmental degradation that negatively impacts the future of local and regional economic potential. PERFORM is a five-year project funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented by Tetra Tech, in association with five subcontractors: Total LandCare, Centre for Environmental Policy and Advocacy, Michigan State University, Winrock International, and World Resources Institute. To improve quality of life across Malawi, PERFORM promotes forest conservation and green growth, while working to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from forestry land use and strengthen climate resilience.

I just wanted to thank you [Tetra Tech] for all your hard work in support of COP 21 [21st session of the Conference of the Parties (COP)] process, including in particular PERFORM's support to the GOM for developing its INDC and associated REDD+ plans. While the accord won't by itself solve all the problems associated with climate change, it’s a hugely consequential step in the right direction, and we really appreciate the work PERFORM did and is doing to support the GOM's role in the process.

David Chalmers, USAID/COR

PERFORM has increased Malawi’s institutional capacity for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+) data collection, analysis, and use. The project team also has built the capacity and capabilities of key government and civil society partners through training and the provision of technical assistance to ensure sustainable outcomes. PERFORM is helping Malawi improve both its systems and institutional capacity for natural resource management and access to finance for climate change mitigation and adaptation. PERFORM uses a Malawian-led process to build sustainability and long-term impact to conserve forests and promote green growth, ultimately improving Malawians’ quality of life.

The Government of Malawi’s (GoM) Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDC) to the Paris Climate Agreement has prioritized emission reductions in forestry and land use sectors. PERFORM supports REDD+ readiness activities that prepare Malawi to receive results-based payments for net GHG reductions in the forestry sector. The benefits of the no-regrets REDD+ readiness approach endorsed by the GoM and promoted by PERFORM includes the establishment of essential building blocks for sound forest and land management and informed decision-making that will yield tangible benefits even in the absence of results-based payments. PERFORM’s ongoing efforts to further advance REDD+ readiness in Malawi supports GoM’s Malawi REDD+ Program (MRP). These efforts build capacity for data collection and use, improve the enabling framework related to REDD+, and support implementation of the MRP Action Plan. This includes support to GoM to:

  • Design and conduct Malawi’s first National Forest Inventory
  • Develop Malawi’s first forest cover maps and data-driven calculations of forest cover change
  • Develop and operationalize a National Charcoal Strategy to address the linked problems of increased forest degradation, deforestation, and increased demand for household cooking fuel
  • Conduct a National Forest Landscape Restoration (FLR) Assessment and develop and operationalize a National FLR Strategy to promote large-scale restoration of Malawi’s degraded lands and forests

The PERFORM team also is working to increase low-emissions land use opportunities in rural Malawi. By testing innovative practices and new technologies at three pilot sites, the team is learning and improving on practices to be scaled up and disseminated throughout the country. The project team identified initial interventions after completing an extensive baseline survey and an analysis of site-based drivers of deforestation and forest degradation. The PERFORM team has refined these tailored suites of interventions, which are designed to address site-specific drivers of deforestation and forest degradation and encourage low-emissions land use through economic incentives, to reflect lessons learned and to adapt to changing circumstances. Through these efforts PERFORM has supported:

  • GoM and local stakeholders to develop and implement a new approach to forest co-management, which capitalizes on sound forest inventories that inform planning and articulates the rights, roles, and responsibilities needed to promote the transparency and accountability of national, district, and local partners
  • More than 5,400 farmers to adopt improved agricultural technologies and management practices, supporting them to make informed decisions regarding seed and management practice preferences, including adopting and planting drought-tolerant maize
  • GoM to address and incorporate gender issues in a manner that empowers women, who comprise roughly 70 percent of farm labor in Malawi
  • More than 11,400 households living in pilot sites, in fiscal year 2017, to significantly increase adoption of fuel-efficient cook stove technologies, mainly by rural women, through an innovative mix of market mechanisms, social marketing, and behavior change communications.

PERFORM works to build Malawian capacity to systematically collect, analyze, and report on GHG emissions. Beyond reporting, these data and analyses are designed to inform domestic development decision-making and support the efforts of GoM and its development partners to access climate finance in support of Malawi’s national development goals.

Throughout the program’s design and implementation, PERFORM has focused directly on increasing the sustainability of its USAID-funded activities by building the capacity of Malawian institutions, developing public-private partnerships, and helping secure additional donor and private funds.

Learn more about the PERFORM project on ClimateLinks.