Protecting Lives with Khungubwe Dyke
Communities near Chikwawa district face flooding each rainy season, endangering residents due to Lalanje river overflow-Moses Thole.
Malawi-Nearly every rainy season, communities near Mwanawanjobvu, Jesse, Ndongo, Khungubwe, and Mchacha under Traditional Authority Ngowe in the Chikwawa district experience flooding on the nearby Lalanje river, putting the lives of residents in danger, writes Moses Thole.
In addition to the villages, the nearby Khungubwe Irrigation Scheme was in danger of being destroyed by floodwaters.
The Green Belt Authority of Malawi, however, deserves praise for building a 1-kilometre dyke in 2022 for a cost of K538 million.
Wester Kossam serves as the board chair for the Green Belt Authority.
“The Khungubwe scheme and community members are to be protected by the dyke. We noticed that the flooding of the Lalanje river was endangering local residents' lives because some had already perished along with their homes,” said Kossam.
The construction of the dyke has been praised as a wise decision by the locals of the surrounding communities, who claim it has lessened the threat of flooding.
Senior Group Village Headman Khungubwe stated that the Dyke's construction was timely in an interview with AfricaBrief.
"Over the past few years, the rainy seasons have had a significant impact on my area. When the Lalanje River floods, my subjects suffer. However, it was also in danger of being destroyed by floods if nothing was done to protect us because the irrigation system helps the locals make a living,” said Senior Group Village Headman Khungubwe.
A relative of Alfred Mchacha of Khungubwe Village perished in the 2019 floods brought on by Cyclone Idai because his home is only a few metres from the inundated Lalanje River.
“I had just started my shift as a security guard at 17:00 hours. The Lalanje River grew larger due to the heavy rain that fell all night. When a house wall fell on my relative, he died. Therefore, the construction of the dyke is a lifesaver,” said Mchacha.
Ester Alexander, a native of Mchacha Village, was compelled to relocate to the camp facility at Mwanawanjobvu Primary School after she lost all of her possessions and livestock to the 2019 cyclone Idai floods.
She has since urged officials to expand the dyke to include additional villages in the Chikwawa district that are close to rivers.
The dyke has so far kept 4000 homes safe, and since the start of this season's rains, the Lalanje River's swell has not had an impact on the villages or the irrigation system.
The Greenbelt Authority board chairperson, meanwhile, claims that a lack of funding is the main obstacle standing in the way of building dykes in flood-prone areas.
“We intended to build a 4-kilometre distance, but we were unable to do so due to financial constraints. The remaining kilometres could not have been covered with 538 million kwacha,” he said.
In order to finish the 3-kilometre stretch by 2024, he continued, the authority is looking for organizations and other partners to collaborate with.
Illyus Abdul Karim, a member of parliament representing the Chikwawa South Constituency, has praised the Malawian government's Green Belt Authority for building the dyke.
Ngowe Area Development Committee statistics show that in 2019, 3,026 households were displaced, and 2 people died. Statistics from the 2021 rainy season show that 2,840 people were forced to leave their homes and 8 were injured when walls collapsed, but in 2022, floods had no impact on the area around the dyke.