Numerous vacancies in critical positions in the middle and lower levels of the departments of Water and Irrigation are said to be affecting effective service delivery in Malawi.
Speaking on Saturday in Mangochi when he opened a two-day technical reports presentation meeting, Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Allan Chiyembekeza described the situation as critical.
He nonetheless said government cannot promise that all vacancies will be filled anytime soon.
Said Chiyembekeza: “The problem is not only in the said departments, but it cuts across all ministries. It must be understood that whenever a programme is rolling out, positions are created to meet its objectives, but not all can be filled at once. But in spite of the serious vacancy problems that exist, the few officers on the ground are still doing their job quite well.”
He then advised employees in the two departments to avail information about their work and accomplishments to the public.
Said the minister: “I have travelled extensively across the country and I have seen that the department of irrigation is doing a lot on the ground, but these achievements are not known nationwide.”
In his presentation, director of irrigation services Geoffrey Mamba also highlighted a number of problems paralysing work in the two departments which include low funding levels to district offices.
Said Mamba: “This affects operations, maintenance and sustainability of irrigation schemes. Failure by government to honour counterpart obligations in programmes and projects is also contributing to slow progress in the implementation of donor-funded projects. Vandalism of irrigation infrastructure and non-adherence to projected cash flows by Treasury also affects implementation of work plans.”
Mamba, therefore, recommended that government intensify farmer and community sensitisation to the need to safeguard irrigation infrastructure.
There are 104 000 hectares of irrigation schemes spread across the country.