Malawi is a small country in South East Africa , with a very small carbon footprint. The average person in Malawi produces only one tonne of carbon dioxide per year. In Ireland the average person is responsible for 17.5 tonnes. Malawi is bordered on the west by Zambia and Mozambique. It is separated from Tanzania and Mozambique by Lake Malawi.
The people of Malawi are already in vulnerable in a number of ways. Dependence on rainfed agriculture is high. About 90 percent of Malawi's population is rural and dependent on rainfed agriculture. Rain fed means that the farmers don't have any irrigation systems and that they are completely dependant on rain to water their crops. This means that in a drought when it doesn't rain crops soon whither and die. Malaria and cholera are big problems in Malawi, where people have poor access to medicine and in a country with large bodies of standing water such as Lake Malawi. HIV and AIDS are large problems contributing to Malawi's low life expectancy of only 48 years.
When the vulnerability of people in Malawi is stretched even further by climate change, crisis point is reached. Due to the precarious food supply situation, the country is prone to natural disasters of both extremes - from drought to heavy rainfalls - putting it in constant need of thousands of tonnes of food aid every year. The fact that people are in a vulnerable situation to begin with means that when they are hit by climate shocks their lives are at risk.
Floods as a result of climate change have killed people directly as a result of drowning, and affect the lives of millions indirectly. When Crocodile infested rivers such as the Shire River in the South East of the country become flooded many more people are then vulnerable to attack by crocodiles. When floods destroy villages and farmland large numbers of people migrate. When income from agriculture is reduced due to climate shocks it forces young women to engage in unsafe sex practices for income, and this worsens the AIDS epidemic.
If we care about the lives of people in countries like Malawi we need to act now to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
As George Mkondiwa, the secretary of land for Malawi said in 2005
"Malawi does not have the luxury to wait, for instance, for scientific research to prove some indelible link between climate change and recent droughts, because people are dying now"