Government, through Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, has launched an exercise to plant two million trees that will cover 1 284 hectares of land.
The project seeks to address water shortage in some rural communities in the country.
The exercise, which is expected to cost $39 million (about K29 billion), will be conducted in Rumphi, Mangochi, Nkhotakota, Ntcheu and Phalombe courtesy of an African Development Bank (AfDB)-funded project called Sustainable Rural Water and Sanitation Infrastructure for Improved Health and Livelihood.
Speaking on Wednesday during the launch of the exercise in Traditional Authority Mwamlowe in Rumphi where 3 500 trees were planted, Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Principal Secretary Erica Maganga said degradation of catchment areas was the major issue affecting water supply in the country.
She said most water schemes, such as Mlowe in Rumphi, are not functioning because people cultivate along river banks.
“Malawi is being affected by so many factors, chief among them the degradation of catchment areas which in turn results in high levels of erosion and siltation of rivers. This limits water supply quantities to rural communities,” Maganga said.
She also said gravity-fed water supply schemes have shortfalls and are ineffective as a large number of people do not have access to clean water.
According to acting chief director for Irrigation and Water Development, Dorcan Ngwira, the catchment protection works are being implemented within the context of enabling policies and legal frameworks through the Malawi National Forest Policy (2005) and Act (2013) which provide for communities to play a greater role in the management of forests and water resources.
Traditional Authority Mwamlowe, commended the move, saying it will help 12 000 people in his area have access to clean water. n