Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences


Geology and Geography

Committee Chair

Brent McCusker

Committee Member

Aaron Maxwell

Committee Member

Jamie Shinn


Due to increasing degradation of upland fields and in the face of erratic rains and increasing occurrence of droughts and floods and increasing food prices, smallholder farmers in many places across sub Saharan Africa engage in wetland cultivation for livelihoods security (Mutambikwa et al., 2000). A cultivatable wetland area is considered prime land, and a desired opportunity that every rural family need for the purpose of food production. Studies have indicated that wetland cultivation significantly contributes to household’s income and food security. Wetland agriculture, however, in Malawi and most of the sub-Saharan African countries is marred with issues of access to land (Simon 2014; Kambewa 2005). Employing mixed methods approach this study attempted to appreciate: 1) how dimba cultivation contribute to household food security and livelihoods resilience, 2) how gender influence access to wetland in Nkhata Bay, and 3) how does the geographic factors of proximity to stream/rivers affect ownership or access to wetland gardens? The study has revealed through exploratory analysis and statistical test i.e. ANOVA that there is significant difference in term of food security between households with dimba and those without dimba. Increase in spatial extent of dimba cultivation between 1990 and 2005 as reveled through land use/cove change analysis further indicates the significance of dimba in the study area. The study has further revealed that in Nkhata Bay, as a patrilocal system, wetland gardens are owned by men, women only get access through their husbands. Women’s access to wetland gardens is further compounded by widowhood, and divorce. Most women lose access to wetland gardens or face challenges accessing wetland gardens when the husband dies.