Lake Chilwa is the second-largest lake in Malawi after Lake Malawi. It is in eastern Zomba District, near the border with Mozambique. Approximately 60 km long and 40 km wide, the lake is surrounded by extensive wetlands. There is a large island in the middle of the lake called Chisi Island. The lake has no outlet, and the level of water is greatly affected by seasonal rains and summer evaporation. In 1968, the lake disappeared during exceptionally dry weather.
The Danish International Development Agency donated funds to ensure preservation of the lake and its wetlands, to improve the production of rice and other crops, and to help safeguard the habitat of the flora and fauna of the lake region.
The Lake Chilwa Basin Climate Change Adaption Programme (LCBCCAP) has been introduced to conserve the sensitive area, which is not only an important wetland for local fauna, but also a major source for fish products in the region.
Lake Chilwa was designated Malawi’s first Ramsar Site, Wetland of International Importance in 1997, and supports massive populations of important bird species including flamingos, pelicans and the localised black egret, while the baobabs on Chisi Island host the likes of trumpeter hornbill and various snake eagles.
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