Rain Gauges Helping With Climate Change In Malawi

Malawian farmers are learning to adapt to a changing climate through innovations that help build resilience to extreme weather shocks – one of these is a simple-to-use rain gauge.

Throughout the past year, Malawi has suffered the negative combined effects of destructive flooding and crop-ruining drought. As a result, the country is especially vulnerable to the current El Niño and the dry conditions it is bringing to this part of southern Africa.

As part of WFP’s R4 Rural Resilience Initiative, 15 WFP-supported farmers in Balaka district recently received rain gauges which record rainfall amounts and help in tracking rainfall patterns. The data recorded from the gauges is used to corroborate satellite readouts that trigger automatic insurance payments to farmers if rainfall is insufficient. This programme seeks to improve food and income security through four risk management activities: Risk reduction, risk transfer, prudent risk taking and risk reserves.

“My new rain gauge will help me to know planting dates and if it has rained enough to plant,” explained one of the farmers, Catherine Mpalasa, a mother of three who undertakes most of the family’s farming activities.

Prior to the installation of the rain gauges, farmers participated in a training session jointly led by WFP and the Malawi Department for Climate Change and Meteorological Services on the use, maintenance and long-term benefits of the instruments. Farmers were taught to differentiate between types of rainfall and how to translate accumulated water in the gauge into actual rainfall measurements.

The R4 Initiative is linked to a climate service pilot called the Global Framework for Climate Services that improves the flow of agricultural and climate information to farmers through training of trainers, text messages and radio.

Maintaining food security continues to be challenging in the midst of climate change and its resulting effects on annual planting seasons. WFP’s investment in new climate innovations and climate services in Malawi is essential to helping farmers prepare themselves for climate-related shocks and for reducing their risk of falling into food and nutrition insecurity.