Rural Farming Households Vulnerability to Climate Variability in Malawi: A Case of Chitekwere Area Development Programme (ADP) in Lilongwe District

Catherine Ng'ambi, Joseph Dzanja, Weston Mwase


Malawi has been experiencing a variety of climatic hazards which include intense rainfall, floods, seasonal droughts, multi-year droughts, dry spells, cold spells, strong winds, thunderstorms, landslides, hailstorms, mudslides and heat waves, among many others. These hazards have been undermining the capacity of small holder households to produce various agricultural commodities. This paper therefore details the results of a study conducted in Malawi aimed at establishing the determinants of household vulnerability in rural farming households of Chitekwere Extension Planning Area (EPA) in Lilongwe District. A household survey of 217 randomly selected households was undertaken to collect primary data. Households were classified into different levels of vulnerability using a Household Vulnerability Index (HVI). In addition, a Logit model coupled with one sample t-tests, Principal Component Analysis and Sensitivity Analysis were used to characterise rural household vulnerability. The analysis yielded two vulnerability categories of low and moderate levels. The Household vulnerability cut-offs were as follows: 65-100 high vulnerability, 41-64.48 moderate vulnerability and 0-40 low vulnerability. The results showed that 7.4% (n = 16) of the households were least vulnerable and 92.6% (n = 201) were moderately vulnerable. The estimates of the logit model revealed that Income Generating Activities (IGA), household size, landholding size, education and access to external support were the most important factors determining household vulnerability. These factors would influence households to graduate from moderate to low vulnerability or vice versa. Principal component Analysis results showed that the proportion of maize production had the highest weight in assessing sensitivity of households due to decline of maize yield. The results have implications for the development of appropriate policies that will mitigate the negative effects of climate change in Malawi.

Full Text:



Copyright (c)

Journal of Agricultural Science   ISSN 1916-9752 (Print)   ISSN 1916-9760 (Online)  E-mail:

Copyright © Canadian Center of Science and Education

To make sure that you can receive messages from us, please add the '' domain to your e-mail 'safe list'. If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox', check your 'bulk mail' or 'junk mail' folders.