Active Grants: 18

GDP (current US$): 6.30 billion (2017)

Population: 18.62 million (2017)

Major Partners

World Bank, European Union (EU), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), UN-HABITAT, Malawi Red Cross Society  

INFORM Risk Rating: 4.4

Risk data from INFORM, a global open-source risk assessment for humanitarian crises and disasters, uses a scale from 0-10, with 10 as the highest level of risk.

Primary Hazards

For additional information on the natural hazard risk profile, visit ThinkHazard.


Hazard Risk 

Malawi is particularly exposed and vulnerable to droughts and floods. As a result of climate change, the intensity, duration, and frequency of weather-related shocks are likely to increase. Furthermore, Malawi is located within the great East African Rift Valley, an area prone to severe and frequent earthquakes.  

Malawi is highly exposed to the negative financial impacts of natural disasters, driven by high hazard levels and economic dependence on agriculture. Agriculture generates around 80 percent of total export earnings and employment. A 2009 earthquake in the East African Rift Valley impacted the district of Karonga and caused damages of approximately $13.6 million. The disaster resulted in widespread business interruption for thousands of displaced agricultural producers. In 2015, the double shock of unprecedented flooding and a drought event reduced agricultural production and led to food shortages. According to a GFDRR-supported post-disaster needs assessment (PDNA) of the 2015 flooding, the agricultural sector posed the largest recovery needs after housing and transport. 

Government Priorities 

Malawi has taken steps to advance disaster risk management (DRM) and improve climate resilience. These include:  

  • Integrating DRM and climate change adaptation into the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy (2011-2016); and  
  • Endorsing the National Disaster Risk Management Policy in 2015 during the flood response. This policy will help create an enabling framework to establish a comprehensive DRM system.  

​To further advance the DRM agenda, priorities include:  

  • Updating country building codes and land-use planning; 
  • Developing risk financing mechanisms; and, 
  • Strengthening institutional capacity and improving data management.  
GFDRR progress to date

GFDRR has played a significant role in raising awareness and understanding of DRM in Malawi by providing evidence and trainings to government officials and enabling resilient recovery after disaster events. GFDRR’s engagement has informed large-scale World Bank investments of over $205 million in the country. 

GFDRR’s engagement in Malawi began in 2008 with the publication of an analytical report identifying the strengths, weaknesses, and needs of existing programs and practices. Since the report, GFDRR has supported the Government of Malawi in institutional capacity-building activities and targeted analytical studies. Two studies on integrating flood and drought risk reduction with the country’s development policies and strategies influenced a $125 million World Bank project that is improving land and water management in Malawi’s Shire River Basin. The project is expected to benefit 430,000 people.  

GFDRR has also supported assessments following major disasters to help the Government of Malawi leverage support and better understand damage, loss, and resilient recovery. Following an assessment of the 2009 Karonga earthquake, demand was created for GFDRR-supported activities to strengthen data for preparedness and recovery. 

The 2015 PDNA following floods helped inform $80 million in World Bank financing to help restore agricultural livelihoods, reconstruct critical public infrastructure, enhance food security, and improve disaster response and recovery capacity. GFDRR has also helped the Government of Malawi develop a multi-sectoral post-disaster recovery framework for planning, financing, implementing and monitoring recovery and reconstruction.  A 2016 PDNA for drought resulted in a similar multi-sectoral recovery framework and informed a $90 million World Bank project for drought recovery and resilience building.  

In particular, the Government of Malawi has benefited from GFDRR’s technical expertise in open source risk data management. Since 2012, GFDRR has helped the government better identify its natural hazards through community mapping exercises. This data has been stored on the GFDRR-supported Malawi Spatial Data Platform, an open source platform that has been utilized by stakeholders following disaster events like the 2015 flooding.   

GFDRR anticipates continued demand for:  

  • Tools for the maintenance of disaster risk data; 
  • Community mapping to enhance baseline information and inform community planning; 
  • Disaster risk financing and insurance;  
  • Support for the development of a safer schools program for seismic resilience; and, 
  • Support for the development of a drought recovery and resilience strategy.  

Grants Awarded by GFDRR 2007 - Present

Climate and Disaster Risk Management Multi-Sectoral Plan Preparation in Selected Sub-Saharan African Countries
$565,467 09/2016 - 09/2017
Open Data for Resilience Initiative Technology and Capacity Building
$783,991 11/2014 - 09/2017
Disaster risk management in Africa: operational support, capacity develipment
$800,000 02/2018 - 02/2020
Open Data for Resilience Initiative: Tools and Capacity Building
$250,000 06/2017 - 12/2018
Enhancing financial protection resilience in V20 member countries
$400,000 10/2016 - 03/2019
$1,381,250 10/2016 - 06/2019
World Reconstruction Conference 3 - Knowledge and Lessons Learned from ACP Countries
$344,465 03/2017 - 04/2018
Facilitating regional risk financing and knowledge sharing initiatives – Labs team
$3,114,380 05/2015 - 02/2019
Facilitating regional risk financing and knowledge sharing initiatives – DRM team
$2,479,966 05/2015 - 02/2019
Supporting countries in developing risk financing strategies- DRF team
$5,944,092 05/2015 - 02/2019
Creating the enabling data environment for risk financing – Labs team
$4,267,206 04/2015 - 02/2019
Stengthening Capacity for Implementing Building Regulations for Resilience
$500,000 03/2017 - 02/2019
Enhancing Resilience to Disaster and Climate Shocks: Malawi Country Engagement
$250,000 01/2017 - 06/2019
Developing Safer School Programs in Malawi
$158,000 06/2017 - 12/2017
Malawi 2015 Flood Post-Disaster Needs Assessment
$368,685 02/2015 - 07/2016
Developing a Safer School Programs in Malawi
$200,000 02/2015 - 06/2017
Malawi Disaster Risk Management Country Plan - Phase 2
$1,000,000 01/2013 - 06/2017
Malawi Drought Recovery and Resilience Strategy
$499,958 05/2016 - 06/2017

World Bank Engagements 2012 – Present

Project Description
Shire River Basin Management Program (GEF)
- | Start date: 06/2012 (Ongoing)

The project development objective is to develop Shire River Basin planning framework to improve land and water management for ecosystem and livelihood benefits in target areas.

Malawi: Shire River Basin Management Program (Phase-I) Project
$125 million | Start date: 06/2012 (Ongoing)

The project development objective of the Shire River Basin Management Program is to generate sustainable social, economic and environmental benefits by effectively and collaboratively planning, developing and managing the Shire River Basin’s natural resources. The program would support the government’s Shire Basin policy letter, and would have a duration of 12-15 years.

Third Social Action Fund Project Second Additional Financing
$50 million | Start date: 07/2012 (Closed)

The development objective is to improve the livelihoods of poor households within the framework of improved local governance at the community, local authority, and national levels.

Irrigation Rural Livelihoods and Agricultural Development Project Additional Financing
$50 million | Start date: 07/2012 (Closed)

The project development objectives are to: (i) increase agricultural productivity of poor rural households in all districts; and (ii) strengthen institutional capacity for long-term irrigation development.

Malawi - Rapid Response Development Policy Grant
$50 million | Start date: 07/2012 (Closed)

The policy development objective is to support efforts of authorities in Malawi toward: (i) achieving and maintaining macroeconomic stability and restoring the functioning of a market-based economy to ensure a quick growth rebound; and (ii) protecting the poor and the most poor in the short run, while improving transparency of delivery systems.

Strengthening Safety Nets Systems - MASAF IV
$32.8 million | Start date: 12/2013 (Ongoing)

The project development objective is to strengthen Malawi's social safety net delivery systems and coordination across programs.

Malawi Floods Emergency Recovery
$80 million | Start date: 05/2015 (Ongoing)

The project development objective is to sustainably restore agricultural livelihoods, reconstruct critical public infrastructure to improved standards in the flood-affected districts, and improve the Government of Malawi’s disaster response and recovery capacities.

Additional Financing to Nutrition and HIV/AIDS Project
$22.6 million | Start date: 06/2016 (Ongoing)

The project development objective is to increase coverage of selected nutrition, HIV and AIDS services, and strengthen disease outbreak preparedness in project areas.

Malawi Education Sector Improvement Project (MESIP)
$44.9 million | Start date: 08/2016 (Ongoing)

The Project Development Objective is to improve the equity and quality of primary education service delivery in early grade levels with an emphasis on improved accountability and functioning at the school level.

Second AF for Strengthening Safety Nets Systems Project MASAF IV
$70 million | Start date: 11/2016 (Ongoing)

The objective of the Second Additional Financing for Strengthening Safety Nets Systems and Fourth Malawi Social Action Fund Project is to strengthen social safety net delivery systems and coordination across programs.

Malawi Drought Recovery and Resilience Project
$104 million | Start date: 11/2016 (Ongoing)

The Project Development Objective is to support the government of Malawi to meet the immediate food security and livelihoods restoration needs of the communities affected by drought and promote recovery and resilience in key affected sectors.

Malawi Agricultural Support and Fiscal Management DPO
$80 million | Start date: 05/2017 (Closed)

The Project Development Objective are to improve incentives for private sector participation in agricultural markets, and to strengthen fiscal management through more effective expenditure controls and greater transparency

Lower Shire Valley Landscape Project
$160 million | Start date: 10/2017 (Ongoing)

The Project Development Objective are to increase agricultural productivity and commercialization for targeted households in the Shire Valley, and to improve the sustainable management and utilization of natural resources.

Malawi Strategic Program for Climate Resilience
$1.5 million | Start date: 11/2017 (Ongoing)

The Program Development Objective (PDO) is to support the Government of Malawi's capacity in the development, coordination and early implementation of a programmatic multi-sector climate-resilient investment plan.

Lilongwe Water and Sanitation Project
$100 million | Start date: 12/2017 (Ongoing)

The objective of the Lilongwe Water and Sanitation Project for Malawi is to increase access to improved water services and safely managed sanitation services in Lilongwe City.

Second Agriculture Sector Wide Approach Support Project
$56 million | Start date: 04/2018 (Ongoing)

The objective of this project is to improve the productivity and diversification of selected agriculture commodities in the project targeted area in a sustainable manner.