Climate Change Overview

Country Summary

This page presents high-level information for Malawi's climate zones and its seasonal cycle for mean temperature and precipitation for the latest climatology, 1991-2020. Climate zone classifications are derived from the Köppen-Geiger climate classification system, which divides climates into five main climate groups divided based on seasonal precipitation and temperature patterns. The five main groups are A (tropical), B (dry), C (temperate), D (continental), and E (polar). All climates except for those in the E group are assigned a seasonal precipitation sub-group (second letter).  Climate classifications are identified by hovering your mouse over the legend. A narrative overview of Malawi's country context and climate is provided following the visualizations.

Malawi is a land-locked country in southern Africa that lies along the southern most arm of the great East African Rift-Valley System (EARS) between latitudes 9°22’ and 17°03’ south of the equator, and longitudes 33°40’ and 35°55’ east of the Greenwich meridian, bordered by Tanzania in the north and north-east, Mozambique in the south-west, south and the east; and Zambia in the west. 

The country is 910 km long and varies in width from 60 to 161 km with a total surface area of 11.8 m ha. Of this total area, 9.4 m ha (80%) is land and the remaining 2.4 m ha (20%) is covered by water. In addition, 1.8 m ha of the total 9.4 m ha is public land, 1.2m ha is estate land, 0.3 m ha is urban land, and 6.1 m ha is customary land. Furthermore, arable land constitutes 39.8% of the total land area, 1.4% is composed of permanent crops, 34.0% is forest land and the remaining 24.8% is classified as other land. Malawi's population was over 19 million in 2020. Malawi’s economy is largely agriculture-based, with the sector supporting about 80% of rural people’s livelihoods and contributing about 30% to GDP and 80% of export revenue. Performance of the other sectors is dependent on agriculture which is largely rainfed and hence highly vulnerable to climate change and climate variability. 

Malawi has experienced climate change and climate variability in the last decades which has contributed to various devastating climate shocks that have increased in frequency in the last few decades. Most notable shocks are erratic rainfall, droughts, prolonged dry spells and strong winds. The changing climate has affected various sectors of the economy including agriculture, health, water, energy, transport, education, gender, forestry, wildlife and infrastructure.