Good news. Malawi villagers in floods impact mitigation. It is happening at Nakhupe in southern Malawi’s rural district of Phalombe. Malawi News Agency’s GLADYS KAMAKANDA writes.
Heavy rains that poured continuously for a week in 2014 resulted into floods that washed away houses and property leaving 1,030 families destitute.
The flood victims sought refuge in school blocks for weeks.
“It was a very pathetic situation; there was complete breakup of social structures with husbands being separated from their wives, and children from their parents,” explained Handson Mambulasi.
He is a Secretary for Community Based and Anti-violence Team (COMBAT) in the area.
But as they say ‘necessity is the mother of invention’ the horrible experience got the community members of the Nakhupe Village thinking.
With the help of the area’s members of Komihera Catchment Conservation Protection Disaster Risk Reduction (KCCPDRR), the community members wrote a proposal for the construction of a dyke.
The proposal caught the eye of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and in June 2014, grant of $14,000 or 10 million Malawi Kwacha was approved for the construction of the dyke.
The community members of Nakhupe Village built an 8 kilometre dyke that diverts the flow of water from Chinguma Hills to Chithumbwi and Lemani Rivers.
As the rainy season finally draws in, floods may, perhaps, not be among the major worries of Nakhupe community members.
The dyke also brought economic benefits to the community members of the Nakhupe Village as the workers got payment for the construction.
“The project really changed our lives economically because from the 10 million kwacha grant every community member who participated in the construction project got a payment of $1 or 500 kwacha (then) per day,” Mambulasi pointed out.
The Nakhupe Village dyke is a living example of how communities can rise above the challenges facing them if they unite and work together towards a common goal.
As some parts of the country continue to face the floods there is need for communities to think outside the box and find means of mitigating the impact of such disasters.
Nakhupe Dyke is among other things preventing the effects La Nina and El Nino.
Malawi’s Department of Disaster Management Affairs (DoDMA) says other communities should learn from the initiative of the flood victims of Nakhupe Village.
DODMA Principal Mitigation Officer Veronica Mhango says her department has set up urgent operation centres to harmonize disaster responses.
“The best way prevent consequences of floods is relocation to uplands during the rainy season or better still, where possible, emulate the Nakhupe Village initiative by building dykes which mitigate impact of floods.”
She added: “Sometimes you cannot stop floods from occurring but you can restrict them to their course by putting a barrier like the Nakhupe Village dyke”.
This is a lesson villagers from flood-prone areas need to learn.