Economics of land degradation and improvement in Eastern Africa: the case of Tanzania and Malawi

Type Working Paper
Title Economics of land degradation and improvement in Eastern Africa: the case of Tanzania and Malawi
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2014
URL Kiptoo Kirui-Economics of land degradation and.pdf
Land degradation is a serious impediment to improving rural livelihoods in Tanzania and Malawi. This
paper identifies major land degradation patterns and causes, and analyzes the determinants of soil erosion
and sustainable land management (SLM) in these two countries. The results show that land
degradation hotspots cover about 51% and 41% of the terrestrial areas in Tanzania and Malawi,
respectively. The analysis of nationally representative household surveys shows that the key drivers of
SLM in these countries are biophysical, demographic, regional and socio-economic determinants. Secure
land tenure, access to extension services and market access are some of the determinants incentivizing
SLM adoption. The implications of this study are that policies and strategies that facilities secure land
tenure and access to SLM information are likely to incentivize investments in SLM. Local institutions
providing credit services, inputs such as seed and fertilizers, and extension services must also not be
ignored in the development policies. Following a Total Economic Value approach, we find that the cost of
land degradation due to LUCC between 2001-2009 periods is about US$2 billion in Malawi and US$18
billion in Tanzania translating to annual costs of about US$244 million in Malawi and US$2.3 billion in
Tanzania; representing about 6.8% and 13.6% of GDP in Malawi and Tanzania respectively. Use of land
degrading practices in croplands (maize, rice and wheat) resulted in losses amounting to US$114 million
in Malawi and US$162 million in Tanzania – representing 3% and 1% of GDP respectively.
Consequently, we conclude that the costs of action against land degradation are lower than the costs of
inaction by about 4.3 times and 3.8 times over the 30 year horizon in Malawi and Tanzania, respectively.
This implies that a dollar spent to control/prevent land degradation returns about 4.3 dollars and 3.8
dollars in Malawi and Tanzania respectively. The costs of action were US$4.05 billion in Malawi and
US$36.3 billion in Tanzania over a 30-year horizon, whereas if nothing is done, the resulting losses may
equal almost US$15.6 billion in Malawi and US$138.8 billion in Tanzania during the same period. Some
of the actions taken by communities to address loss of ecosystem services or enhance or maintain
ecosystem services improvement include afforestation programs, enacting of bylaws to protect existing
forests, area closures and controlled grazing, community sanctions for overgrazing, and use of ISFM in

Related studies