By Fatsani Gunya
Rice farmers at Kalwe Irrigation Scheme in Nkhatabay District have vowed to rebuild their rice schemes that has been partly washed away by heavy rains just over a fortnight ago.
Overnight heavy rains on April 27 washed away over 14 hectares, affecting over 100 rice farmers in the area that was initially spared from the stormy tropical Cyclones Anna, Gombe and Batsirai that kept wrecking havoc in the Sub-Saharan Region over some months ago.
The rains triggered floods in many parts of the district including the scheme, which World Vision Malawi (WVM) did recently rehabilitated through one of its projects in the district, following years of abandon.
“It is true; the floods have affected 14 hectares of rice. We urgently need K900,000 to replace the damaged section of the pipe line system,” confirmed Andrew Kolove, WVM’s Development Facilitator for Nkhatabay.
“The money will cater for cement and extra 10 pipes with 200mm sizes. With adequate support he, the works can take only three days to fix the damage,” he said.
While bemoaning the damage cause, Kalove felt that flooding somehow presents the scheme with a chance to display their residence going forward.
“Mostly, it has helped us identify weaker and stronger points, for example, we need to reinforce the pipes with stabilizing cement pillars throughout because we have noted that the sections where we have similar pillars survived.”
Also confirming the development was Hanock Banda, the scheme’s chairperson who indicated they were still assessing the damage caused and that they would be calling the affected farmers for a meeting to chart the way forward.
Out of the total affected 121 households, 64 are female-headed.
Said Banda: “This is the worst floods ever experienced in this scheme.
The whole area was submerged in water. We had to wait for days before the water could subsizede.”
“I was expecting to harvest 10 bags of rice each weighing 90 kg but with the floods, I will probably salvage around six bags only,” he added.
In a separate interview on Thursday, Sangwani Banda-the scheme’s secretary admitted to have also suffered a major setback.
“I was expecting to harvest about 35 bags of rice but my projection has been cut to about eight bags only. This is disheartening.”
The floods have domino effects towards 468 children who directly benefit from the scheme whose majority, 53 percent of whom are girls.
However, World Vision Malawi has showed commitment towards a towards quick restoration of the scheme.
The organisation has since pledged financial and related technical support to ensure that the rehabilitation works include permanent upgrades to the system, which was partly exposed to floods due to inadequate tree cover at the scheme’s main water intake.
The 48-hectare Kalwe is a flagship Scheme under WVM’s Transforming Household Resilience in Vulnerable Environments (THRIVE).
THRIVE is a five-year project being implemented in the country’s districts of Nkhatabay, Ntchisi and Lilongwe.
“We have a component called Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration in which farmers are asked to reclaim lost forests by allowing trees and tree stumps to regenerate. We will also intensify our component on Disaster Risk Reduction,” added Emmanuel Shaba- WVM’s THRIVE Project Officer.
Collectively, Cyclones Anna, Batsirai claimed over 40 lives from the 20 districts they swept through and impacted over 950 000 people including half a million children; according to the Department of Disaster Management Affairs reports.