Malawi government and the World Bank have pumped US$131.6 million (about MK52.7 billion) into the Shire River Basin Management Programme (SRBMP) in order to reduce power interruptions and disasters in the country by 2017.
According to Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DoDMA), the programme exists to develop a strategic planning and development framework for the Shire River Basin and support targeted investments to improve land and water resources management.
The programme will also focus on associated environmental services and livelihoods in the basin.
DoDMA Chief Relief and Rehabilitation Officer, Dyce Nkhoma, told the Malawi News Agency (MANA) Friday that the 15 year multi-sectoral programme will save millions of money which are spent on disaster risk reduction activities every year.
“There are several projects and programmes that are implemented towards disaster reduction and mitigation but the results are either appreciated within short period of time or are not comprehended at all because partners work separately.
“The SRBMP will put all partners together with guidelines to encourage improved infrastructure which will be of long term,” he said.
Nkhoma revealed that water related infrastructure component of the programme will see the Kamuzu Barrage at Liwonde being upgraded to improve water holding capacity and it will be automated.
He said the current barrage, which is manually controlled, fails to hold enough water for the production of adequate electric power at Tedzani and Nkula Hydroelectric power stations.
Nkhoma explained that the barrage will also control amount of garbage that interrupts power production and supply.
“The automatic barrage will assist in keeping water that will be used even when water levels are low. Usually, the country experiences power failure due to the weeds that accumulate at the power stations, removal of the weeds right from the barrage will minimize power failure,” he said.
He further observed that upgrading the barrage was also necessary as its life span had expired.
He added that the control of water at the dam will also control flooding because only the required waters that are needed for the production of energy will be released.
Nkhoma also disclosed that another component in the programme will focus on catchment management where afforestation and recommended agricultural practices will be encouraged so as to control soil erosion which results in siltation.
“Catchment management will among other things, assist the power generation with alternative source of livelihood, especially in Chikhwawa and Nsanje districts where the population will be able to harvest more crops due to reduction of floods that usually wash their crops away.
“Apart from flooding, siltation also disturbs power system because shallow rivers hold very little water after rainy season,” said Nkhoma.
According to Nkhoma the catchment management aims to rehabilitate and manage target sub-catchments.