Ecological footprint of the richest: Malawi country profile


Ecological impact of the richest (Dario Kenner, Why Green Economy)This country profile is part of the research on the inequality of overconsumption which attempts to quantify the full ecological footprint of the richest in different countries around the world. Read a summary of the working paper published by the Global Sustainability Institute, Anglia Ruskin University (read the full working paper).

There is very little data or research available on the ecological footprint of the richest.

Identifying the richest people in Malawi

Total population: 17.9 million in 2015 (Source: CIA World Factbook, July 2015 estimate)

It is very difficult to find information about the richest people in Malawi. To submit data on the number of High Net Worth Individuals in Malawi see the form at the end of this page. HNWI’s are defined as “having a minimum of US$1 million in investable wealth, excluding primary residence, collectibles, consumables, and consumer durables” (Capgemini and RBC Wealth Management).

Inequality indicators

Income inequality: Share of income captured by the richest 10% in 2010 was 37.5% (Source: World Bank)

Ecological footprint indicators

(Credit:Global Footprint Network)

(Credit:Global Footprint Network)

This research uses the ecological footprint as a reference point to discuss the overconsumption by the richest people. The Global Footprint Network methodology explains that the “ecological footprint of a person is calculated by considering all of the biological materials consumed and all of the carbon dioxide emissions generated by that person in a given year.” This includes a person’s consumption of products from fisheries, cropland, grazing land, forests (wood and capture of carbon dioxide), and also use of urban land (Source: Global Footprint Network).

Lack of data on the richest people

There is currently no data available to accurately quantify the different components of the ecological footprint of the richest people in Malawi e.g. their total carbon footprint. The closest information available relates to the richest 20% and is based on household expenditure surveys (see methodology for discussion of strengths and weakness of using this metric).

There is a focus on fuels for private transport and meat as two key indicators as well as looking at total expenditure. Private transport and food have been identified as the main sources of individuals’ environmental impact in developed countries (Peattie and Peattie, 2009). These two indicators represent examples of direct (fuel used in private vehicles) and indirect (meat) greenhouse gas emissions. It is important to cover both types of indicator because there are numerous studies that show the majority of emissions in developed countries are often indirect, for example from food, consumer electronics, clothing and recreation (Capstick et al., 2015; Büchs and Schnepf, 2013; Druckman and Jackson, 2008).

Malawi: Annual expenditure by the richest 20% in 2011 Total all deciles Richest 20% Poorest 20%

Total expenditure


MK 272,850

MK 140,458

(51% of total)

MK 15,161

(6% of total)

Meat consumption

(Meat, fish and animal products)

MK 33,777

MK 18,556

(55% of total)

MK 1,049

(3% of total)

Source: Household survey 2010-2011, Republic of Malawi (2012)

Complementary data

The 2010-2011 household survey explains that “across consumption quintiles, on average, the highest quintile consumes almost nine times more than the lowest quintile. On average, the richest consumes about MK140,458 per year while the poorest consumes about MK 15,161 per year.”


Submit data on the ecological footprint of the richest people in Malawi

The data you submit can be in any format e.g. statistics, visuals, symbolic examples. If the data you want to submit does not fit with the categories below contact us.

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