The impact of climate change on food and nutrition security in Africa and potential adaptation options for the future; a case study of Malawi

  • Charlotte Hall

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    The challenge of providing the global population with sufficient and nutritious food that is also affordable and sustainable cannot be understated. Nowhere is this challenge greater than in Africa where an estimated 21% of the population are currently undernourished. Three key research questions were addressed in this thesis; (1) to what extent will climate change impact national food supply and undernourishment in Africa by the year 2050?, (2) to what extent will climate change impact national food and nutrient provision in Malawi by the year 2050?, and (3) to what extent do natural landscapes benefit food and nutrition security in the poorest households in Malawi? The first study found that climate change will have a smaller impact on food security in Africa than population growth, with very high levels of undernourishment projected in almost all countries by 2050. The second study found that undernourishment could be mitigated to some extent in Malawi if crop yields increase dramatically in coming decades. The impacts of climate change were critically dependent upon the socioeconomic and climate scenario used. However, supplies of key micronutrients were found to be inadequate even under “best case” assumptions about crop yield gain, socioeconomics and climate change, owing to already low supply and insufficient increase in nutrient dense foods. The third study found that for the poorest rural communities in Malawi, living in forested areas was beneficial for vitamin A intake and wild foods were important for the most remote households. The findings described in this thesis suggest that a nutritious food supply needs to be dramatically increased in Africa over the coming decades to meet the needs of an expanding population. Yet, this should not come at the expense of natural forests which not only provide nutritional benefits, but can help to mitigate and adapt to climate change.
    Date of Award2019
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorMark Cutler (Supervisor), Terry Dawson (Supervisor), Jennie Macdiarmid (Supervisor), Pete Smith (Supervisor) & Robin Matthews (Supervisor)

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