Taking stock of community-based flood risk management in Malawi: different stakeholders, different perspectives
Current flood risk strategies in Malawi are characterized by community-based flood risk management (CB-FRM), even though studies explicitly documenting evidence of successful CB-FRM remain limited. This paper investigates the realities and challenges of CB-FRM as seen through a lens of different stakeholders. In order to capture the experiences of CB-FRM, a predominantly qualitative research framework was developed. In 2016, 11 focus group discussions with stakeholder groups (local communities, local government and non-governmental organisations) were held. Additionally, informal discussions, field visits, a short survey and an extensive desk study were undertaken. The findings were analysed according to the major themes that emerged related to the realities and challenges of specific stakeholder groups. Although response and relief still remain prominent components of CB-FRM in Malawi, a number of mitigation and preparedness activities is observed. However, a lack of in-country resources, relief-oriented aid approaches and an ‘aid dependency’ syndrome represent obstacles. Different stakeholder groups share similar challenges in terms of financing, participation, decentralised governance and project management. Lack of project sustainability and localised ownership also emerged as major challenges. The identified challenges shed light on the frontiers and directions in which improvements are needed, thus offering a valuable contribution to the existing knowledgebase.