Malawi reconstruction

Energy resilience and electricity systems in Malawi - workshop

The devastation caused throughout Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi by the landfall of Cyclone Idai was a reminder of the increasing vulnerability of low-income countries to the damaging effects of extreme weather. The impacts of these events, including the loss of energy access at a community level, are often far too long-lasting – threatening the affected country’s progress towards economic development.

In April, the last of three workshops designed as part of a partnership between EEG and the Low Carbon Energy for Development Network (LCEDN) to address community energy resilience in the design and development of sustainable energy systems was held in Malawi.

In Malawi’s case, Cyclone Idai has not been the only threat to the country’s energy supply. The country is vulnerable to hazards – the Shire River, which generates 98% of Malawi’s hydro-electric power, is affected by droughts or floods almost every year, affecting hydropower generation and supply in the country. An improved approach to energy resilience is needed, taking into account the technical, financial, and socio-political aspects of sustainable energy.

Although the workshop focused on Malawi, it also included participants from other Southern and Eastern African countries. The discussions were focused on the effects of flooding and drought on energy systems and communities, as well as what could be done to build more resilience. 

A key facet of the partnership is to facilitate knowledge exchange – the workshop provided an opportunity for learnings from Nepal’s experience in the aftermath of the 2015 earthquake to be shared.

A series of research questions were identified and prioritised, and later presented at a session on Energy Resilience at the UK Low Carbon Energy for Development annual conference at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, in May. A further Energy Insight report will be published with the full outcomes from the workshop.

This project is financially supported by the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) Whole Systems Networking Fund and EEG. The workshop on energy resilience in Malawi was led by Mzuzu University in collaboration with the Civil Society Network in Climate Change (CISONIECC) in Malawi.