Blantyre, January 12, 2018: Government has said it has drilled eight high yielding boreholes around Mpira Dam catchment area to address water scarcity in Balaka and Ntcheu districts which came as a result of drying up of the dam.
Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, director of communications, Hamilton Chimala, told Malawi News Agency (Mana), Thursday, that the High Yielding Boreholes (HYBs) will be routed through Mpira Dam water supply reservoirs and then distributed through pipelines (Mpira Dam distribution network.)
“Government planned to drill six high yielding boreholes and so far, we have managed to drill five HYBs while the three HYBs have been drilled with assistance from the Scottish Government and will shortly be installed for functionality.
“The boreholes will be acting as backup since Mpira Dam will be operational very soon taking advantage of the rains as the dam is 90 percent full from the rain water at the moment and the scheme is set to begin to operate normally any time,” said Chimala.
Chimala said at least 350,000 people were expected to benefit from the boreholes especially in rural areas of Balaka and Ntcheu including trading centres such as Manjawira, Senzani, Phalula, Khwisa and Chiendausiku.
He said apart from the boreholes, government through Malawi Drought Recovery and Resilience Project (MDRRP) is also drilling twenty nine high yielding boreholes in selected town and market centres for southern and central region water boards through MDRRP funded by the World Bank.
“The project is being implemented through Southern Region Water Board contract with FISD and the contractor is currently drilling high yielding boreholes at Ntcheu Boma for Central Region Water Board under the MDRRP.
“The same works will commence shortly in Balaka as the contractor has already mobilized equipment on site. Approximately K500 million has been set aside for this intervention through MDRRP,” he added.
Meanwhile, Chimala said government through Shire River Basin Management Program (SRBMP) phase 1 has engaged Uranus Consulting Engineers to do feasibility studies for possible rehabilitation and upgrading of the Mpira-Balaka Rural Gravity-Fed Piped Water Supply System during Phase 2 of SRBMP as a long term plan for the scheme.
“Right now we are encouraging communities around Mpira Scheme to come up with local solutions on environmental conservation and catchment management. If they stop cutting down trees, overgrazing as well as farming on the slopes, we will surely avoid siltation of Mpira Dam,” added Chimala.
In June last year, Mpira Water Scheme Manager, Samuel Khomani, pressed an alarm that the dam, which is the only source of water for Balaka district and surrounding areas was quickly drying up because of the high demand of the commodity as it was designed to carter for only 284,000 people but the demand has since soared to over 500,000 people.
“Moreover, during the 2017-2018 rainy season, the dam did not harvest enough water due to the fact that Ntcheu did not receive adequate rains,” said Khomani