Community leads on implementing integrated watershed management activities in Phalombe

Group Village Headman (GVH) Maluwa of Traditional Authority Jenala in Phalombe district is leading members of Panthunzi and Maliongo Farmer Field Schools to plant bamboo shoots on flood hotspot along Phalombe river.

This activity follows other integrated watershed management practices that the GVH and community members had already started implementing in the area.

These activities include, among others, natural tree regeneration efforts, afforestation, construction of storm drains, check dams, and enacting and reinforcing by-laws to safeguard these initiatives.

“The problems affecting this area are our own problems and we are taking a leading role in eliminating them. We are applying the knowledge and skills that we have gained from trainings that Evangelical Lutheran Development Service has been conducting with support from the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations. We are also thankful for the tree seeds and seedlings we have been receiving and growing on our hills such as Chisugulu hill.

“We have taken a step further to protect our riverbank by planting bamboo shoots in order to control soil erosion, river siltation and possible flooding. We have also observed that the river is trying to change its course through this spot we want to plant the bamboo shoots on. This spells doom for us, that’s why we are taking these measures today”, GVH Maluwa stressed the importance of the activity.

The community chose bamboos after noticing that some sections of the river were well protected by bamboos and that the bamboos have wide adaptation in the area and less susceptible to deforestation as compared to other tree species.

Blending disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation practices seeks to ensure that the socio-economic well-being and improved livelihoods of community members are secured.

“Through the support from FAO and our collaboration with government extension workers, with funding from the European Union, we have been able to build capacity of the communities here through Farmer Field Schools.

“In this area,  community members have led the activities aimed at protecting their hills, streams and rivers by planting trees, bamboos, bananas and other natural tress, so far covering a stretch of 12km, and also construction of box ridges in their fields to enhance water harvesting”, said Gazeli Phiri, Evangelical Lutheran Development Service (ELDS), District Project Officer.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has been supporting the Government of Malawi to implement the European Union funded Strengthening Community Resilience to Climate Change project in Phalombe, Zomba, Blantyre and Neno districts.

The project is helping build the resilience of vulnerable smallholder farmers to climate variability and change through transformative community empowerment.

In Phalombe, FAO implements activities through ELDS. GHV Maluwa (in blue outfit) with Mr Gazeli Phiri (left), ELDS Project Officer and Mr Drive Kachitsa (right), Asistant Agriculture Extension Development Officer responsible for Chisugulu Section, Tamani Extension Planning Area, Traditonal Authority Jenala, Phalombe District Farmer Field School members ready to plant bamboos. Bamboo planting to strengthen the riverbank and also trap silt upland that enhances river siltation and increases chances for further flooding.