Authored by Brad Czerniak

Lake Chilwa Basin in Southern Malawi has experienced environmental degradation, climate variability and change that have manifested negative impacts on people's livelihoods, food security and health, particularly among the most vulnerable groups such as women and children. However, what has not been established has been the linkages of climate variability and change, and population dynamics particularly migration and public and reproductive health. Using both qualitative methods of inquiry, the study investigated the people's perceptions and understanding on the linkages between climate variability and change and public and reproductive health. The results show that communities articulated the linkages between population growth, deforestation and food security by noting that that poverty and increasing population were drivers causing environmental degradation. Due to increasing population, partly from migrants from other districts entering the basin, demand for land and poor land management practices are seen, such as cultivation on wetlands and river banks. The heavy burden on women to collect water, firewood and food for families was an impediment to their effective adaptation to climate change and variability. They called for increasing access to family planning and reproductive health services, providing public health services and creating awareness of these linkages amongst communities that live in the basin. The study recommends amongst others to integrate health, reproductive health, population and migration issues into climate change management programmes and policies of Malawi. This can be done using the Population, Environment and Health (PHE) approach which addresses multiple needs and linkages.