Reaping Benefits from Rainwater Harvesting

Reaping Benefits from Rainwater Harvesting

By Nellie Kapatuka

As Malawi continues to grapple with the adverse effects of climate change like drought, dry spells and unreliable rainfall patterns, some communities are turning the tide with rainwater harvesting. Katema Village in Traditional Authority (T/A) Mponda’s area in Mangochi is one such community, where members have teamed up to construct a multipurpose reservoir. Through their Area Development Committee (ADC), the people identified the need for a dam to harvest rainwater for irrigation farming to help ensure the community's food security.

Community members formed the Stambuli Group to oversee the construction and overall management of the dam. The group’s chairperson, Sad Yusuf, said people from five other surrounding villages who were previously hit hard with prolonged dry spells will benefit from the 35,000 cubic-metre dam. 

Describing the construction as a milestone towards overcoming poverty and food insecurity, Yusuf says, “It has come at the right time as our area mostly receives erratic rainfall. With the fish and irrigation farming we are venturing into, our lives will definitely never be the same, as we will be self-reliant and not looking out to the government for assistance.”

According to Yusuf, the group intends to use solar power for pumping irrigation water from the reservoir on Mtemankhokwe River whose source is Mtakataka Hill. Recently, the group planted trees in Mtakataka Hill and vertiva grass along the reservoir’s catchment area for soil and water conservation, prevention of siltation of the reservoir and improved ground water recharge.

An Environmental Officer at the Ministry of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining, Patrick Mkwapatira, said the climate proofing project seeks to build resilience of communities to the effects of climate change, while at the same time equipping them with skills in resource management, as agriculture is a major source of income for many communities. He said these are deliberate measures to ensure that people do not solely rely on rain-fed agriculture. 

“As you know, Malawi relies heavily on rainfall for agricultural activities. However, with climate change, rain-fed agriculture is becoming unreliable hence the project comes in to assist people to cope with and adapt to the effects of climate change through such interventions to enable them to grow crops more than once in a year,” said Mkwapatira.

Malawi is one of the countries that has been heavily hit by the effects of climate change ranging from droughts, dry spells and unreliable rainfall patterns among others. For this reason, the Government and other development partners are undertaking several initiatives across the country in a quest to make sure people bear less of the burden of climate change. This intervention is under the Climate Proofing Project which is supported by the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) through the Environmental Affairs Department (EAD).