Lake Malawi National Park was established in 1980 and inscribed as a World Heritage site in 1984 for its natural beauty (criterion vii) and outstanding biodiversity values, notably due to its value to science as a remarkable example of biological evolution (criterion ix) and the exceptional diversity of its freshwater fish (criterion x).
However, while local communities depend on fishery-based livelihoods, unsustainable fishing practices, forest degradation within the lake’s water basin, and other human activities driven by poverty and population growth threaten this unique site and undermine the livelihood base in the long term.
Located at the Southern end of the great expanse of Lake Malawi with its deep, clear waters and mountain backdrop, the national park is home to many hundreds of fish species, nearly all endemic. Its importance to the study of evolution is comparable to that of the finches of the Galapagos Islands.
The project is based on the recommendations of the 2014 Reactive Monitoring Mission to strengthen the level of protection and management of the property and on Committee Decision 42 COM 7B.93 (Manama, 2018) to update the World Heritage property’s management plan and establish a fish monitoring protocol. The Committee also requested the State Party to identify and reinforce the required management responses to the various threats and challenges faced by the property. This will be done while ensuring continued and close cooperation between the park management, the communities, and relevant government institutions.
The project will therefore mainly aim at improving the state of conservation of the lake and its biodiversity of outstanding universal value through the following activities:
A contract with the UNESCO National Commission was established on 7 August 2020 to implement the following activities:
A decentralisation memo was established on 6 August 2020 with the UNESCO Office in Harare to support the State Party in the development of a concept note for a vocational skills development programme targeting women in order to help them benefit from employment and entrepreneurship opportunities provided by the tourism sector.
Due to several delays and challenges encountered during the development of the project, key activities such as the mapping and boundaries demarcation, and the development of a concept note for vocational skills, were not executed in the originally scheduled period of implementation. In order to allow their smooth progression, the project implementation period was extended until March 2021 and the reporting period until June 2021. A progress report submitted by the State Party that details the project’s activities from 15 August 2020 to 15 October 2020 can be downloaded here.
Malawi National Commission for UNESCO and University of Malawi, Chancellor College