Participatory, Holistic Landscape Management

Lead Organization:

Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR)

Partner Organizations:

DeTAS Ministry of Local Government through local development structures, including area development committees and village development committees; Ministry of Agriculture through Departments of Land Resources and of Agricultural Extension Services; Department of Agricultural Extension Services through Decentralized Agricultural Extension Service Structure; SCOPE Malawi; traditional authorities; group village and village headpersons; FRNs and FFSs; and National Agroecology Hub (Malawi)

Community of Practice:

East & Southern Africa






In Malawi, food insecurity and malnutrition are chronic problems (GoM and National Planning Commission, 2022), the main cause being low agricultural productivity resulting from severe land degradations and climate change (World Bank, 2019). Different models—most focused on environment—address land degradation, including catchment, watershed, and integrated water management. 

On the pilot level, DeTAS in partnership with [Temwa Malawi] and with support from the Seeds and Knowledge Initiative (SKI) implemented an integrated model to contribute to environmental restoration, food sovereignty, resilience, and economic empowerment of communities in Kakomo Landscape in Misuku Hills in Chitipa district since August 2021. The model shows promise yet needs further testing, development, and documentation for wider application.

This project proposes a model for the landscape level. Landscapes are large-scale physical areas comprising geographical, ecological, social and economic activities and values. They have multiple functions, providing food, water, shelter, livelihood, and culture, among other services, all linked with each other (Swanepoel, 2020). 

A landscape approach recognizes that the root cause of problems may not be site-specific and that a development agenda requires multi-stakeholder interventions to negotiate and implement actions (FAO, 2018). Landscape approaches provide a platform that cuts across sectors to enable integrated action (FAO, 2018). Such an approach deals with large-scale processes in an integrated, multidisciplinary manner, combining natural resource management with environmental and livelihood considerations (FAO, 2023). It factors in human activities and their institutions. A sociopolitical framing of the work is critical to ensure that landscape interventions also boost the autonomy of those communities that rely on and serve as custodians for natural resources (Swanepoel, 2020).

The AE landscape concept views nature and society as mutually constituted. Any R&D work in the landscape should look at the environment and society in an integrated way.

Grant Aims:

The overall goal is to facilitate the testing and development of a model for an integrated, holistic, sustainable, resilient, and inclusive agricultural and food systems transformation at landscape level.

Outputs and Outcomes:


  • Individuals (men, women, youths), interest groups, community leaders, and other stakeholders (actors) have critically reflected on, assessed, and understood status of livelihoods and biophysical environment and their interaction within landscape; have deeper understanding of their interests, influence, activities, and roles they play, their interactions, and institutions and structures that govern them
  • Multi-stakeholder coordination, collaboration, and dialogue platforms established at village, village development committee, area development committee, and national AE hub levels
  • Facilitations of holistic landscape transformation plans integrating livelihood improvement, resilience building, and ecosystems restoration designed, implemented, monitored, and evaluated through collective action; collectively and effectively implemented by stakeholders at face-to-face community, village development committee, and area development committee levels 
  • Participatory action research-based approach for design and implementation of all aspects of AE landscape transformation intervention developed and implemented
  • Methodology for customer-centered research support to AE  landscape transformation work developed and tested using action research
  • Participatory monitoring, evaluation, and learning approach developed and implemented


  • Interest and commitment of individuals, interest groups, community leaders, and other stakeholders in landscape triggered to ensure proactive participation in and ownership of AE landscape transformation processes
  • Collective action on AE landscape transformation work secured through strengthened institutions and governance systems at different levels
  • Holistic landscape transformation plans integrating livelihood improvement, resilience building, and ecosystems restoration designed, implemented, monitored, and evaluated through collective action
  • Lessons learnt drawn and recommendations shared for AE landscape transformation approach and customer-centered research methodology