Interim Report for Evaluation of the ENRM Project in Malawi
Evaluating Environmental and Natural Resource Management Interventions to Reduce Hydroelectricity Losses in Malawi
Millennium Challenge Corporation
- The grant facility exceeded the output targets it tracked, including the number of trees survived, the number of leaders trained in ENRM, and the number of operational REFLECT circles and Village Savings and Loan (VSL) groups. However, the grant facility did not have the resources, capacity, or a plan to obtain high quality data on important measures such as the number of farmers adopting sustainable land management practices. Many grants also did not cover the entire agricultural value chain.
- Weed and sedimentation control equipment delivery was significantly delayed because of poor contractor selection and performance, leading to cancellation of the procurement of a dredger for the Nkula power station.
- Close to 7 percent of land area in the Shire River Basin experienced land cover change between 2015 and 2017, with overall trends suggesting deforestation and cropland expansion. A large share of deforested area is located in high-slope areas, and agricultural land is encroaching onto riverbanks. The evidence suggests that areas facing high erosion risk are being converted to biomes that exacerbate soil erosion.
- The lack of early agreement between MCC and MCA-Malawi on the structure of the environmental trust, a focus on implementing the grant facility, and poor contractor performance resulted in trust operations not being launched before compact closeout. It is uncertain if the environmental trust will be launched and sustained in the coming years.
The Shire River, Malawi’s main waterway and the source of 90 percent of the country’s electricity generation capacity, has undergone major transformation over the past 25 years. Changing climate, demographics, and—especially—land use practices have accelerated sedimentation and aquatic weed growth in the river, and as sediment floats downstream it gets more concentrated. This hampers hydropower generation at Malawi’s three main power plants: Nkula, Tedzani, and Kapichira. By the end of 2013, Malawi was using only 72 percent of its generation capacity, partly due to excessive weeds and sediments (MCC 2019). The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) and the Millennium Challenge Account-Malawi (MCA-Malawi) identified a lack of consistent, reliable, and affordable electricity as a key constraint on Malawi’s economic growth.
To address this issue, MCC funded and MCA-Malawi implemented (as part of the larger Malawi compact) the Environmental and Natural Resources Management (ENRM) project. MCC contracted with Mathematica to conduct an independent evaluation of the overall ENRM project and the individual project activities. This report gives the interim evaluation findings, addressing research questions on project implementation, outcomes, and sustainability for three of the activities and the overall project.