Phys Chem Earth (2002). 2022 Jul 7:103197. doi: 10.1016/j.pce.2022.103197. Online ahead of print.
The impact of COVID-19 on the human population in Malawi has been documented. However, its impact on the animal population and the environment has not been thoroughly researched. Because of the well-known inter-relationship between human and animal populations and the environment, a study based on a brief scooping review of previous related studies, media and survey reports, was conducted. The findings reveal that except for a few selected studies, the research gap on COVID-19’s impact on the environment and animals in Malawi is wide compared to other countries. Nonetheless, from the few identified related studies, this study has revealed that as the restriction of movement and closure of borders disrupted the supply chain of forest resources in the country, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to increased pressure on forests as a coping strategy due to significant loss of jobs in the informal sector. Although the quality of water and air improved in most parts of the globe due to reduced human activity, there is no substantial literature on the same in Malawi partly due to ineffective monitoring systems. However, COVID-19 has exposed the deficiencies in water security in Malawi, thereby creating opportunities to address them. Conversely, increased demand for water at household levels due to restricted movements contributed to environmental pollution at suburb levels. In particular, the less developed and overpopulated countries suffered from land pollution due to poor disposal of plastic generated from hospitals and personal protection equipment. Elsewhere, studies show that minimal human interference with animals outside homes resulted in an increase of fish and bird biomasses. But, unemployment rates caused by the pandemic have seriously contributed to illegal poaching in developing countries. Therefore, a rapid assessment of the impact of the pandemic on environment in Malawi, to generate the evidence needed for policy makers to use in support of the affected and also plan for the recovery and sustainability of wildlife, is recommended.