Research Article Open Access

Flood Forecasting in Malawi's Shire River Basin

Daniel Nakapu Hussein1, Mwakio Tole2 and Maarifa Mwakumanya2
  • 1 Department of Geographical Sciences, Faculty of Environmental Sciences, Mzuzu University, Private Bag 201, Luwinga, Mzuzu 2, Malawi
  • 2 Department of Environmental Sciences, School of Environmental and Earth Sciences, Pwani University, Post Office Box 195-80108, Kilifi, Kenya


This study describes a study conducted in 2021-2022 in the Shire River Basin (SRB) of Chikwawa District, Malawi to evaluate how flood forecasting is currently performed and to provide recommendations for improvement. Flooding often occurs in the basin, endangering people's lives and property. A case in point is the 2015 flood and 2019 Tropical Cyclone Idai, which were so devastating that Malawi required international assistance. This showed that the Flood Forecasting System (FFS) in the basin has not been as robust as needed to adequately warn and prepare communities before the flood occurrence. For this purpose, a study was conducted in four Traditional Authorities (T/As) of Chikwawa District, namely Mlilima, Kasisi, Makhuwira and Lundu. Individual and group interviews were conducted with 114 residents and government officials, and a survey of 270 households was conducted by 5 research assistants. Three types of research methods were used: (1) Case study (2019 flood), (2) Phenomenological (live experiences of local people), and (3) Quantitative analysis (by users of the FFS). The results showed that a sophisticated Indigenous Flood Forecasting System (IFFS) exists in the SRB to improve both flood detection and early warning systems, however, it is not used by the Malawian government officials tasked with Flood Forecasting (FF). Based on these findings, we recommend the development and implementation of a new “integrated flood forecasting system” in the Shire River Basin, which combines both scientific and indigenous FFS to combat flood impacts.

American Journal of Environmental Sciences
Volume 19 No. 2, 2023, 43-53


Submitted On: 1 December 2022 Published On: 30 May 2023

How to Cite: Hussein, D. N., Tole, M. & Mwakumanya, M. (2023). Flood Forecasting in Malawi's Shire River Basin. American Journal of Environmental Sciences, 19(2), 43-53.

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  • Chikwawa
  • Indigenous Knowledge
  • Scientific Technologies
  • Shire River Basin
  • Tropical Cyclone Idai