In the past two weeks, Malawi has been experiencing a spell of power outages, which left most of us puzzled as to why all of a sudden things had deteriorated.
It has since been announced this week that this is due to further strained power generation capacity because of low water levels in Lake Malawi mainly attributed to the drought in 2015. The announcement further says the situation is non reversible in the foreseeable future implying that the situation may improve probably with the onset of next rain season. Everyone is saying here we go again. Déjà vu.
This whole sequence of events is once again a reminder that today in 2015 we are living in an increasingly precarious place and situation because of the excesses of our ways in the recent past, where we have disastrously failed to be worthy stewards of our environment.
The wisdom goes “What happens upstream effects the people downstream”
This lesson is indelibly imprinted in my mind from economics lectures imbibed from an army of economics professors that included the late Ben. F. Kandoole, peace be upon his soul.
The challenges and problems of water in Malawi need a holistic approach to resolve. They are a deep rooted dilemma that needs the concerted efforts of every Malawian working in unity akin to that of a swarm of bees or an army of ants for Malawi to avert a disaster of catastrophic consequences and proportions.
The wisdom above that laments about the mess upstream affecting the people downstream renders itself to several interpretations, but I will share two for now: the time horizon effects and the geo-economic and political effects.
From a time perspective, we must bear in mind that the things we do today will affect us or our posterity tomorrow; that is why in most great moments of initiative, innovations and discovery people have called them watershed moments. Except that while we have been keenly aware of the positive watershed moments of great insights and inspirations by mankind, we have been somehow blind and deaf to the terror of the watershed moments of disaster and pain for tomorrow’s generations.
A watershed is geographically situated in the higher altitudes of any terrain, the so called catchment area. Because of forces of gravity everything that happens in the watershed areas is washed or flows downstream. The point is that if you poison the watershed, you have effectively set in motion destruction for everything downstream. So have we with our damage to the environment.
So, in a way todays challenges of no power because of insufficient water in Lake Malawi and the Shire river were founded and have been in the making in the recent gone by decades when we wantonly, as if we were possessed by some mysterious floraphobia on steroids, cut down and uprooted all trees and any form of vegetation within our sight.
Today, as they say, is payback time and we are reeling under the weight of our wayward and errant ways, we have no water, there is draught and starvation, our animals will starve to death due to lack of grazing areas and our industry is grinding to a halt because we have no electricity.