Government has said it is implementing the Shire River Basin Management Programme to enhance integrated programme approach since Shire River is the lifeline of the country’s economy.
“Fragmented knowledge base is making it difficult to have integrated investment planning in the basin and, for that matter, we need to enhance coordination across sectors to improve on our shared vision in terms of planning, development and management of Shire River Basin,” said Allan Chiyembekeza, Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development at the opening of the fourth Shire River Basin Conference on Wednesday at Liwonde in Machinga..
The three-day conference which attracted participants from various sectors, including programme sponsors, is being held under the theme Prosperous Families, Green Catchments and Health Waterways in the Shire Basin.
To illustrate the economic spillovers of Shire River, the 520 kilometres long river currently provides 98 percent of all hydro-electric power which Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) produces for the country, provides water for Blantyre City and other towns, provides water to Nchalo Sugar Estate for Illovo Sugar (Malawi) Limited and is set to be the source of water supply for the planned Shire Valley Irrigation Scheme in the Shire Valley, touted to be one of the biggest irrigation schemes in Malawi.
The conference objectives, according to Chiyembekeza, include presenting to the stakeholders the initial draft of the rolling Shire River Basin Management Plan to seek their input into the basin planning process and also presenting key issues for the Shire River Basin Planning.
“The draft plan will show how our shared vision of having prosperous families, green catchments and health waterway in the Shire Basin can be realised,” he said.
According to the Shire River Basin Programme fact sheet, 5.5 million Malawians live, work and depend on the river’s basin.
As part of the programme, World Bank is funding the rehabilitation of the Kamuzu Barrage at Liwonde to the tune of $50 million (about K35 billion), which will involve the rehabilitation of the existing barrage by installing computerised gates, building a new bridge a few meters from the barrage and installation of a weed boom. n