In a country where 71 percent of the population lives in extreme poverty and nearly everyone depends on rain-fed agriculture, maize is Malawians’ lifeblood. Yet climate change threatens this critically important crop.
The Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) predicts that maize yields will decrease by 10 percent this year due to the combined effects of a prolonged drought and the invasion of a maize-destroying armyworm introduced from Latin America. It’s just the latest setback in the country’s long history of food insecurity: According to the International Monetary Fund, 65 percent of all households in Malawi (84 percent of rural households) reported experiencing food insecurity for at least one month of 2013, a 15 percent increase from 2010.
Satellite and other data reveal one strategy that could help—restoring degraded landscapes.