Written by Chinsinsi Cheketa
One of Malawi’s renown innovators, Kondwani Kachamba Ngwira says it’s high time the country commits to invest in water harvesting projects to sustain agriculture and food security.
Ngwira who is also Project Innovation Center (PIC) Chief Executive Officer, notes that every year, the country is hit by floods which eventually bring food insecurity, but instead of keeping on managing floods and relying on donations, the government should invest in water harvesting that will be used for irrigation farming.
His remarks follow the recent devastation caused by Tropical Cyclone Freddy that ripped through Southern Malawi, washing away thousands of hectares of crops in the process.
Ngwira has suggested the need for the country to divert the attention from only offering relief support during such calamities to establishing intensive irrigation systems, by empowering agriculture cooperatives and local organizations that have the potential to grow under irrigation.
“Every year, Southern Malawi is hit by floods, what if we turn these floods into a blessing by planting a number of water-harvesting tanks in these areas and use the water for irrigation”, said Ngwira.
“We can do it; we already have some in Rumphi. The more the floods, the more water to use for growing crops when rains stop through irrigation”, added Ngwira.
Ngwira has since warned that there will be severe hunger that donations will not stand, if the focus would only be on providing relief items to households affected by Cyclone Freddy in Southern Malawi.
While lamenting that the country is doing less in promoting water harvesting projects, an environmental activist, Mathews Malata is faulting the government’s continued lack of commitment in championing already established policies aimed at transforming the country.
He wonders why the country still struggles with food insecurity issues, despite having a number of reliable water bodies, besides receiving adequate rainfall in some areas.
Malata said, “The problem is with the country in implementing policies and integrating them in activities that will enable the country to pilot such projects at large scale and in return, see farmers producing at least three times a year through irrigation”.
He said efforts undertaken by the government to address issues of hunger in the country, will remain rhetoric, if the country continues to resist from embracing modern ways of developing the country.
Rainwater Harvesting Association of Malawi (RHAM) Chairperson, Macpherson Nthara was not available for a comment.
Since 2003, RHAM has been working on promoting rainwater harvesting as a viable alternative to addressing water challenges resulting from effects of climate change, but apart from lack of interest from farmers, adoption of such initiatives is marred by little funding.