08:52 am - Thursday 27 July 2017

US Ambassador to Malawi supports collaboration on Shire River conservation

By Amalawi - Wed Aug 19, 12:37 pm

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Blantyre: United States of Ambassador to Malawi, Virginia Palmer has said there is need for more close collaboration in the management and conservation of the Shire River and its catchment area in order to sustain its hydro power generation capacity.

Palmer made the observation on Thursday at Saiti Mgawe Village in the area of Senior Chief Chimwala during the launch of the environment and natural resources management under the Millennium Challenge Account – Malawi power sector reform project in Mangochi.

She pointed out that the resources from the Millennium Challenge Corporation through the Malawi Compact were meant to improve (ESCOM) electricity supply commission of Malawi’s capacity to generate and supply hydro power uninterrupted, hence the need for concerted efforts in addressing challenges in the sector.

Palmer US Ambassodor to Malawi

Palmer US Ambassor to Malawi

“98 of all electricity in Malawi is generated from the Shire River and the tributaries and rivers that flow into it. Malawi depends on water from the Shire River to power homes, schools, hospitals and businesses across the country.
“Unfortunately, because of poor land management including deforestation and soil erosion, the Shire River is suffering from heavy sedimentation and aquatic weed infestation downstream making it difficult for ESCOM to produce power,” Palmer observed.
Palmer encouraged people in the country particularly those along the Shire River and its catchment areas to use the river sustainably considering that the water body provides livelihoods to over 5 million Malawians. She also said the watershed needs to be protected to serve future generations.
On this note, Palmer also emphasized on the need for gender empowerment in the course of the implementing the natural resources management activities, noting that women contribute handsomely to national economies.
“That is why some of the grantees will be sensitizing communities around the benefits of gender empowerment and providing training in business and marketing skills, leadership and adult literacy and numeracy,” she added.
Palmer, therefore, challenged the recipients of the grants to work with speed in combating the environmental and natural resource challenges threatening the country’s electricity supply.
MCA – Malawi chief executive officer, Susan Banda said the compact was very confident that the Organisations that received the grants would deliver on their mandate, hinting that unity of purpose between the grantees and the communities was critical.
“We have been working with communities across the country, and what comes out clearly is that collaboration is always key to success,” Banda said. “Let us all join hands in ensuring that we restore the natural resources. In fact, it is the responsibility of each Malawian to do that, this is the reason we are all here.”

In his remarks, Senior Chief Chimwala commended MCA for considering Mangochi in general and Nansenga River in general to participate in the project, saying the intervention would not only help in boosting ESCOM’s hydro power generation but would also protect people in the area from disasters such as floods experienced earlier this year.
Earlier in the day, 10 local and international non – governmental Organisations received grants from the (Millennium Challenge Account) – Malawi Compact all amounting to USD5, 590, 019 an equivalent of K2, 845, 319, 671 for the management of the Shire and its catchment areas.

The Malawi Compact grant has a budget of USD350.7 million to implement three projects namely, infrastructure development, power sector reform and environment and natural resources management.

In Mangochi We Effect and the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace will carry out natural resources management activities in upper Nansenga and upper Lingamasa rivers respectively. Some of the activities under the project include establishment of nurseries, planting trees, constructing soil and water conservation structures among others.

Elsewhere, Women’s Legal Resources Centre will be working on mid Mkasi, while the Hunger Project will be addressing issues at Mwetang’ombe in Lisungwi River while Self Help Africa will focus its intention to Ulongwe and Mpilisi EPAs under the same project.

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