updated: 28 April, 2008
International Fund for Agricultural Development

Project ID: 1334
Executive Board document: EB-2005-86-R-18

Irrigation, Rural Livelihoods and Agricultural Development Project

The project. The proposed project aims to raise agricultural productivity and net incomes of rural poor households in Malawi in a sustainable manner by providing an integrated package of support comprising: community public works schemes to provide inputs to poor households; irrigation development; technical advisory services for crop production, marketing and post-harvest assets and services; and capacity-building.

Who are the beneficiaries? The principal target group under the project will be the economically active rural poor and the transient poor. In response to the country’s ongoing food crisis, the World Bank increased its funding by USD 10 million following appraisal in order to substantially expand the provision of inputs (seed and fertilizer) to households with rainfed plots. Thus, the target groups of the project are poor and very poor farmers cultivating rainfed plots and emergent poor smallholder farmers with the potential to produce a marketable surplus from irrigated plots or family plots and seasonal wetlands. All farmers can participate in catchment conservation, rainwater harvesting activities, the farmer services and livelihoods fund for extension and market access, and the community public works to earn vouchers for seed and fertilizer. Farmers with access to land in irrigation schemes will benefit from irrigation development. About 196 550 households (or about 827 000 people) in 11 target districts are expected to benefit from the project.

Why are they poor? Households are poor because of their lack of resources, inability to tap existing market incentives, limited ability to intensify production, the difficulty of earning cash income from off-farm employment, and constraints on marketing production. Furthermore, the drought in early 2005 has undermined future cropping capacity.

Loan amount:
SDR 5.5 million (equivalent to approximately USD 8.0 million)

Total project cost: USD 52.1 million


Project ID: 1164
Executive Board document: EB-2001-73-R-15-Rev-1

Rural Livelihoods Support Programme

The programme will help improve the beneficiaries’ access to resources and ensure more efficient use of available resources by village households. This will be achieved by

(i) keeping the villagers better informed and encouraging their self-motivation;

(ii) empowering villagers in terms of organization for resource access/production;

(iii) improving the responsiveness of service providers; and

(iv) reducing the hunger gap through investments in production and income-generating activities, thereby improving the dietary and nutritional status of the target population.

The programme has been conceived within the country’s ongoing decentralization policy and will work with emerging decentralized institutions and local line ministry staff that play a key role as service providers. Support and oversight will be provided to help achieve the programme’s objectives. The programme will seek to ensure the active participation of all groups of villagers.

The target population encompasses some 163 000-192 000 people living in 32 000-38 000 households in villages of the Nsanje, Thyolo and Chiradzulu Districts of Malawi’s Southern region. Very few households have access to sufficient land to meet their food requirements. Four out of five households are food insecure for at least three-to-four months of the year and are vulnerable to fluctuations in rainfall and household labour availability. Many poor households lack the resources to participate in conventional development activities. The programme’s village-level processes have been designed to secure the active involvement of the poorest groups, including the landless, households headed by women and families affected by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV)/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).

In addition to strong population growth, the main causes of poverty among the target population relate to past expropriation of customary land and active discrimination against smallholders, including restrictions on their freedom to engage in economic activities. Although such expropriation and discrimination have ended and poverty alleviation is now the Government’s major concern, development assistance – most of which has been delivered via centralized public sector institutions – has failed to reverse the trend of widening and deepening rural poverty. The asset base of households has declined and no longer allows for a standard development approach whereby agricultural or other intensification ensure household food security and create a surplus sufficiently large to pay for purchased inputs. Off-farm income-generating activities are largely confined to seasonal labour on local estates or in other regions of the country, local food vending and marketing of farm produce, the two latter activities being constrained by limited purchasing power.

Loan amount:

SDR 10.70 million (equivalent to approximately USD 13.47 million)

Total project costs are estimated at USD 19.64 million

Cooperating Institution:

United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS)

Project ID: 1047
Executive Board Document: EB-98-63-R-16-R ev-1

Smallholder Flood Plains Development Programme

At the request of the Government of the Republic of Malawi, the Government of the Kingdom of Denmark and IFAD have joined efforts to assist Malawi in the development of a programme that will form part of a prospective agricultural sector investment programme. A first step was to derive a conducive policy framework and, within that framework, to support a number of subprogrammes and activities. The main objective of the seven-year IFAD-initiated programme is to:

(i) improve household food security and income levels of vulnerable smallholder families living on the floodplains and engaged in irrigation and water use;

(ii) provide basic infrastructure and health services for such families; and

(iii) c reate capabilities at two levels, i.e., at the grass-roots level, water users' associations to manage their own irrigation systems and, at the national level, to support improved farm water use in the irrigation sector that is environmentally sustainable.

The programme will focus its activities in three districts - Karonga , Nkhotakota and Machinga - selected using three sets of criteria: poverty considerations; occurrence and distribution of various wetland types; and potential for development. All households that participate will do so voluntarily. Irrigation schemes coming under the programme will be transferred over time to farmer ownership and all interventions are to be farmer-led and farmer-managed. Women play a central role as producers, with responsibility for about 70% of farm work in the smallholder subsector, and women-headed households will be proportionately represented in the targ e t group.

Innovative Features:

Most of the work will be carried out by local water users' associations and by the rural development programmes, representing the lowest levels of the extension services within the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation. The radically transformed role of the Government will be one of backstopping farmers' initiatives and efforts, rather than directly managing irrigation development. Programme features that specifically reflect IFAD's corporate strategy are beneficiary participation in design and implementation; building of local capacities; a balanced gender focus; and actions to ensure quality control throughout the programme cycle.

Loan amount:

SDR 9.3 million (approximately USD 12.5 million) on highly concessional terms.

Total programme costs:

Estimated at USD 15.5 million, of which USD 1.1 million will be provided by Ireland, USD 1.7 million by the Government and USD 0.2 million by the beneficiaries.

Cooperating institution:




Hot links
Contact information
Ms Miriam Okong'o
Country programme manager
Via Paolo di Dono, 44
00142 Rome, Italy