Lake Malawi has been earmarked for oil exploration, yet millions of Malawians rely on it for food, income, and drinking and cleaning water. Even more take pride in the lake’s unparalleled beauty. It is an eco-tourist drawcard. Malawians know that were oil to be developed in the lake, profits would be shipped abroad and an already poor population would be left stripped of their most precious natural resource.
Lake Malawi is the jewel in the crown of the country’s tourist attractions. It occupies one fifth of the country and is almost 600km long. Economically the lake supplies work for fishermen, net makers, canoe makers and of course fish traders. It is home to some 450 species of freshwater tropical fish (including an impressive array of cichlids), spectacular birdlife, including kingfisher, fish eagle, heron, jacana, egret and white-breasted cormorant.
But nature-based tourism and mineral extraction cannot effectively coexist.