Malawi: Low water levels slash hydro power, put forests at risk

| November 9, 2015

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Dwindling water levels are affecting Malawi’s hydroelectric power supply and putting more pressure on the country’s already stressed forests, officials say.

The Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi says the amount of electricity it generates through three plants on the Shire River has fallen by 66 per cent because of Lake Malawi’s declining water level. Experts blame the decline on erratic rains made worse by the changing climate.

Joseph Kalowekamo is the deputy Director of the Department of Energy Affairs. He says, “People are now using charcoal and firewood more because [electricity] is intermittent due to [frequent power cuts].”

The shift to firewood could create a vicious circle in Malawi—deforestation in Lake Malawi’s catchment areas may reduce rainfall which will, in turn, further reduce power generation.

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Photo: A man prepares fish beside Lake Malawi, 120 km (75 miles) east of Malawi’s capital Lilongwe in this April 2009 file photo. Credit: REUTERS/Antony Njuguna