It has emerged that Blantyre Water Board (BWB) is pumping just 20 percent of the expected capacity from the multi-billion kwacha Likhubula Water Supply System Project in Mulanje touted as a solution to water woes.
In an interview yesterday, BWB spokesperson Evelyn Khonje said the board is failing to tap adequate water from Mulanje Mountain as anticipated.
She attributed the failure to tap 20 million litres of water per day to the impact of climate change which has seen water levels at Dziwe la Nkhalamba, the project’s main intake, drastically drop.
Besides the low water levels, Khonje said other organisations such as Southern Region Water Board also extract water from the same pond, a development that has affected water supply in Blantyre and surrounding districts.
She said: “We are relying on the water we are pumping from Walker’s Ferry [on the Shire River] to ensure that all the areas are receiving water.
“This is why in some areas people are complaining of the intermittent water supply because we are trying to rationalise the little water supply we have.”
Khonj e s a id the Likhubula Water Supply System Project assessment indicates that during the dry season, the board would tap an average of about 15 million litres per day, but the situation on the ground is different.
The project was expected to help BWB improve water supply in Blantyre and surrounding districts such as Chiradzulu, Thyolo and Mulanje.
However, most of the areas initially stated to be beneficiaries, namely Machinjiri, Bangwe and Limbe in Blantyre and Chiradzulu Di s t r i c t Hospital continue to experience intermittent supply.
In a separate interview, Chiradzulu district director of health and social services Jameson Chautsa said the district hospital continues to face water challenges.
He, however, observed that the water situation has improved at the facility compared to the previous years.
Said Chautsa: “The issue is to do with pressure which is normally low. As a hospital, we need running water at all times. Sometimes the supplier comes with a water bowser, but it’s not a solution because we function better when we have access to the running water.”
Water tapped from Dziwe la Nkhalamba, is sent to BWB treatment plant at Nguludi Turnoff in Chiradzulu through gravity.
Former president Peter Mutharika launched the construction work in November 2016 before commissioning it in 2019.
Speaking during the launch, Mutharika described the project, which was expected to benefit 300 000 residents in Blantyre, as a big national investment and part of a bigger plan to develop Malawi.
The project faced opposition from community members under Citizens for the Protection of Mulanje Mountain who demanded that government should first plant trees on 3 500 hectares o where trees were destroyed.
The project was financed by a $23.5 million line of credit from the Exim Bank of India