Officials from Southern Region Water Board (SRWB) on Wednesday led a tree planting exercise on Mpira Dam catchment area in the area of Senior Chief Kwataine in Ntcheu to revive the dam which is drying up due to siltation.
According to a recent Situation Analysis Survey conducted by the Ministry of Irrigation and Water Development, the dam which was commissioned in 1992 at 29 metres, is now 17 metres deep.
Speaking when he presided over the tree planting exercise, director of Water Supply Services in the Ministry of Irrigation and Water Development Steve Mwanza condemned the careless cutting down of trees in the catchment area.
“It is very important that we protect water bodies by taking good care of catchment areas. This dam is providing water to a huge population and if left to dry up, many people will suffer. Everybody should support these efforts by the board,” said Mwanza.
SRWB Board Chairperson John Kapito said the Board will conduct needs assessment in communities surrounding the dam as one way of strengthening partnership in taking care of the dam.
He called on authorities in the district to work hand in hand with Mpira Water Trust, which oversees operations for the dam. Kapito also urged them to formulate stiff by-laws that would help deal with people who continue cutting down trees wantonly from the catchment area.
Board Chairperson for Mpira Water Trust Senior Chief Kwataine said they are contemplating of coming up with a vibrant catchment area committee and dredge the dam to remove the silt thereby restoring its lost glory.
SRWB pumped in K3million (about $4 352) for the purchase of 300 000 tree-seedlings which were planted on the 7.5 hectares catchment area.
The dam supplies water to over 500 000 people in Balaka, part of Ntcheu, Neno and Mangochi.